The NHL is either incompetent or tone deaf

The hiring of the TikTok star as a special advisor and "voice of the fans" shows the NHL really has no idea what it's doing when it comes to diversity and inclusion

Ninety minutes before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final began, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman held his annual pre-final state-of-the-union media conference and took the opportunity to trumpet the league’s diversity and inclusion efforts over the past year. Then he announced the league would be investing an additional $5 million over the next 18 months, “to expand, and even further accelerate our work on diversity and inclusion.”

Less than 48 hours later, the NHL came out with another announcement. This one was to announce that the league had hired 19-year-old content creator and TikTok star Josh Richards as a special advisor. He is referred to in the release as “the voice of the fans” with the goal of, “growing the league’s youth audience.”

“In this new advisory role,” the NHL news release says, “Richards will make appearances at NHL marquee events, and share creative ideas regarding future NHL events and initiatives as part of the League’s fan development efforts for the next generation.”

So we can only assume that the NHL, while trumpeting all its efforts at diversity and inclusion, is comfortable with the fact that its new hire participates in a podcast called BFFs with Dave Portnoy, the controversial founder of Barstool Sports, a platform that has been embroiled in controversy and called out amid claims of racism and misogyny. We can also only assume the league did its due diligence on the matter and watched an episode that premiered six days ago on YouTube.

It also certainly watched the segment of the podcast that was titled, “Fu--, Marry, Kill” in which the participants and their guests are presented with the names and photographs of three prominent women, one of whom they choose to fu--, another to marry and another to kill.

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Josh Richards, middle, with fellow TikTok stars Addison Rae (front) and Bryce Hall. On a podcast where he was given the choice of having sex with, marrying or killing Rae, he said he would kill her.

On this particular episode, photos of Charly Jordan, Bella Poarch and Daisy Keech were displayed. This is some of what Richards had to say about the three women:

“I’m not hooking up with Charly at all. I’m just going to marry her and sesh, we’ll smoke her rose joints and that’s all we’ll do. I guess I’ll hook up with Daisy and kill Bella…I feel maybe I should have said, ‘Kill Charly.’ I feel bad for Taylor (?) now. I don’t want to kill her because she’s nice and Taylor is friends with her. But Taylor’s friends with her so that’s why I’m thinking, would (she) even want me to kill her?”

In another segment, the subjects are Baby Ariel, Addison Rae and Loren Gray. And this is what Richards had to say:

“I’m killing Addison. Sorry Addison, but I can’t, like I can’t…I’ll marry Baby Ariel and fu— Loren. Oh wait, does Loren have a boyfriend too now? Oh, sh--, I’m really in a hole here. Fu--.”

And yet in another installment of the game, the pictures of Faith Ordway, Samantha Riehl and Nikita Dragun are projected. The guest on the show is fellow TikTok star Vinnie Hacker, who said he felt weird about it because “Faith has a boyfriend now.” Richards’ response to that news? “So, kill her.” When Hacker chooses to kill Faith, marry Nikita and fu—Samantha, Richards says, “I guess I’m going the same rotes (rotation).”

So it bears mentioning something here. The people at the NHL’s head offices are often either tone deaf or incompetent. If they knew what they were getting in Josh Richards and ignored it, all their claims about the importance of inclusion and diversity are a complete joke. The league talks inclusion and diversity one day, then two days later announces the hiring of a young, white, Gen Z YouTube star who wears his hat backwards and talks about women he’d like to have sex with and kill.

If they didn’t know what they were getting in Josh Richards, that’s just as egregious. When a 58-year-old technically challenged hockey writer who has never heard of any of these people and is confused and frightened by this whole world of social influencing can find this kind of material after about an hour of poking around the internet, what does that say about the NHL’s efforts at due diligence? Did it not vet this kid? Or did it simply see that he was the top male earner on TikTok between 2019 and 2020, has 25.3 million followers and 1.7 billion Likes on TikTok and grew up cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs and thought he would be a great fit for them?

(Hockey Unfiltered reached out to the NHL to ask about the hiring of Richards and has yet to hear back.)

“We love the passion Josh has for hockey,” NHL chief content officer Steve Mayer said in the release. “He shares the League’s vision to engage young hockey fans. He relates to our players and fans and we can’t wait to hear his great ideas about how to grow our game. We look forward to working with Josh over the next year.”

It’ll be interesting to see what “great ideas” Richards has for growing the game among young people. We won’t have to wait long to find out. Richards’ first gig with the NHL will be tomorrow with a one-on-one conversation with Bettman that will be available across the NHL’s social and digital channels.

Wonder if they’ll be taking questions…