Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin spoke to the media on a season exit Zoom call yesterday.
As part of our refocused coverage yesterday, we already shared Slavin’s comments on racial injustice and the NHL’s response, but feel it’s important to share them again here along with the rest of the interview. Here’s a full breakdown of everything Slavin had to say:
On his situation with his daughter and the NHL’s response to racial injustice: I obviously get a different viewpoint from it now. It’s different now that I’m living it and experiencing it. Before, I think I said in the article, that I wasn’t fully aware of everything that was going on around the world. I knew that racism existed, I just didn’t know how deeply rooted it was. It’s hard to see what’s happening in our country right now. It’s hard to live with the fact that Emersyn is going to grow up in this world.
Obviously we want to see change happen. There’s a long way to go, and I could go on for a while about this and share my heart on the matter. But change needs to happen, and so what the NHL did with postponing the games is a great sign of solidarity, and it was awesome to see that. But at the same time, there’s still a lot more that needs to be done than just postponing one game, right, postponing a couple games. There’s a lot of change that needs to happen and a lot of action that needs to happen outside of the game of hockey. But it is awesome to bring more awareness to it to continue that conversation.
On what he might have done or felt about playing this week: When you’re at the rink, and you’re focused on the task at hand, and then to see the events that played out, I’m sure it wasn’t an easy decision for those guys to make to say ‘Hey, let’s postpone this game, but I think what they did is awesome and it showed great support for the black community that’s suffering right now, and so it’s awesome to see that support through the NHL.
On the Canes’ defense: I think in the bubble itself, we had eight, nine guys who could step in and play just about any role you asked them to play. So you look at the depth of our defense and put it right there at the top of the league. So that’s comforting and encouraging going into next year. Once you get [Brett Pesce] back, it makes it that much better, the special player that he is.
And then we had [Dougie Hamilton] back from his injury, you get [Sami Vatanen] back from his injury, and so you’re looking at a really dangerous D corps with all the tools necessary to make a D corps successful. Going into next year, I’m super excited, and we’ll just have to see what happens. Obviously you can’t carry that many defensemen in the regular season, and so there’s going to have to be something that happens. I don’t know what that’s going to look like, but I think whatever group we come back with out of those nine guys is going to be solid.
On having conversations about social justice: It’s hard, obviously everyone’s back in their hometowns, I’m just outside St. Louis right now with my wife’s family, so to have those conversations with guys isn’t as easy as just being at the rink and having those conversations. But no, I’ve had some really good conversations with guys on the team about this stuff leading into the bubble and everything going on, over the course of this year, over the course of my daughter’s life obviously, I’ve been trying to educate myself on these matters. I’m still learning. I definitely do not know everything, but I’m just trying to learn and educate right now, it’s super important.
Listening to black people, to the people who are actually experiencing what’s going on right now is really big. So taking what you learned from those conversations, and you definitely want to have those hard conversations with the people on your team, the people that you’re closest to outside of hockey, whatever it is. Those conversations aren’t easy, but to have them is extremely important to bring awareness to this, to hopefully start that change. I think the biggest thing right now is everyone just taking a look at their own heart in this matter and finding out what you believe about this situation. That’s going to be the biggest thing that changes the course of everything that’s going on right now is heart change. Because that’s the issue, is it’s a problem of the heart right now and how we look at our peers. Those conversations need to continue.
On the Canes’ future: I think what Rod said the other day was spot on. I think you take a look at the first couple years of my career with this organization, we were always kind of right there, we obviously had issues to fix. And then you look at the difference between almost being there my first couple years on this team, then the past two years and we are there, but we can still get so much better and still continue to gain that experience. We’re a young team, just to watch these guys develop, I still feel like a young guy and so just to watch everyone develop over these past couple years and obviously it starts with Roddy, he’s been awesome as a head coach in directing us in the right way, giving us an atmosphere and culture to believe in. I think we have a lot of room to grow as a team still, and I’m excited for the next five-10 years here at this organization.