In 2018, Hess founded Black Girl Hockey Club, a group whose mission is to create a safe community for women of color and their allies at hockey games. The group also advocates effective diversity and inclusion strategies in hockey at every level. “Black Girl Hockey Club is meant to combat those types of attitudes, that type of racism and white supremacy in hockey,” Hess said.
She added: “In early February, I went to New York and I sat down with the Rangers, and we had some really great, deep, interesting discussions about race. So, it was really disappointing for me to see that that type of interaction wasn’t even, that they didn’t even anticipate it.”
As part of the B.G.H.C. effort, Hess and the Pittsburgh Penguins had scheduled a virtual meet-up for Hess’s group. A week ahead of time, they scheduled their videoconference for April 4. The day before that, the Miller Q. and A took place, and in light of what happened then, Hess and her fellow organizers adjusted their agenda.
Even before the Rangers flub, though, Hess had prioritized security for the chat, so that it would provide a safe space for a diverse group of fans seeking refuge from the sport’s majority-white fan culture.
Two Penguins executives, both of whom are black, had worked with Hess days before to arrange the logistics: Tracey McCants Lewis, the team’s director of human resources, and Delvina Morrow, its director of community initiatives.
Kim Davis, an N.H.L. executive responsible for social impact initiatives who is black, had already been scheduled to join the conference, but Hess reached out by email to ask if she would specifically address the Miller incident.
On the call, Davis called the act “deplorable” and personal and used a profanity to emphasize her point, according to multiple participants. She also applauded the statements from the Rangers and the N.H.L. and insisted that such racist language could never come from a hockey fan. The N.H.L. declined to make Davis available for comment for this article.