During the 2023 All Star Festivities held in Fort Lauderdale, the NHL announced that it would be hosting a job fair with the goal of helping job seekers from diverse backgrounds get a job in hockey. In a now-deleted post on LinkedIn, the NHL revealed they were only offering the event, titled ‘Pathway to Hockey Summit’, to specific groups of people. The deleted post stated, “Participants must be 18 years of age or older, based in the U.S., and identify as female, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Indigenous, LGBTQIA+, and/or a person with a disability. Veterans are also welcome and encouraged to attend”. This description prompted public criticism and backlash. Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis stated the event was discriminatory, and that Florida has been fighting against discrimination in all forms. The NHL was encouraged to remove any prohibitions about attendance for the event.
After the public criticism, the NHL released a statement to Fox News saying that the original phrasing of the post shared on LinkedIn promoting the event wasn’t accurate. According to the statement, The Pathway to Hockey Summit is both a networking and an informational event. The event was designed with the goal of encouraging everyone, regardless of their backgrounds, to consider joining the industry to build a career. It was also created to inform people who might not be too familiar with hockey of all the great opportunities they could get from starting a career in the industry. After the post received criticism, the NHL ended up removing it from its LinkedIn account completely.
The NHL set out with good intentions, but not thinking through their messaging led to misunderstanding and backlash. Backtracking on the original post and then removing it was somewhat of a correct move on the part of the NHL, but it’s still not ideal regarding the aftermath the National Hockey League received and is still facing. The organization clarified that the event is actually open to everyone that was over 18 and extended the deadline for registration after the criteria was changed. The ideal situation would be for the NHL to have never found itself in this situation to begin with. This could have been achieved if the content of the LinkedIn post was thoroughly proofread before it was published to the world. Honest mistakes can end up happening, and when they do, it’s important for anyone facing public criticism to apologize for what happened, take accountability, and communicate the measures they will be taking moving forward to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.