Janne Kuokkanen Loaned Out to Finnish Club

Janne Kuokkanen, the forward prospect the Devils acquired in the Sami Vatanen deal from the Carolina Hurricanes will be loaned out to Oulun Karpat Oy of Liiga in Finland. Liiga is Finland’s top hockey league and Kuokkanen is from Oulu, the city that Karpat is located in.

Kuokkanen played one game for the Devils this past season following the trade from Carolina. He played the bulk of the 2019-20 season in the American Hockey League, for the Charlotte Checkers (former AHL affiliate of Carolina – now with the Florida Panthers) and the Binghamton Devils.

He totaled 48 points in 56 American League games this past season according to Amanda Stein on the “Inside the Devils Blog” where the news was reported.

Six of those 48 AHL points were with Binghamton (three goals and three assists) while 42 points came in his 52 games with Charlotte. He appeared in only four games for Binghamton.

Stein reports that “Kuokkanen will be immediately able to play for Karpat while waiting for the start of the 2020-21 NHL Training Camp, at which point he will be able to return to New Jersey.”

Gould Named as Chief Diversity and Impact Officer Across HBSE

Yesterday, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment kept their promise of creating a culture of inclusion and diversity across their brands when they hired David Gould as Chief Diversity and Impact Officer.

According to the press release put out yesterday, he will “lead internal and external diversity and inclusion standards, programs, and initiatives across Harris Blitzer Sports.” He will be working for the organization as a whole, so will be overseeing the Devils, Prudential Center and the Philadelphia 76ers, HBSE Real Estate, HBSE Ventures, Sixers Innovation Lab, multiple esports properties and more.

Back in August, HBSE made a pledge towards racial equality and unveiled their racial equality action plan. This included “a commitment of $20 million to fight systemic racism and champion equality.” To this aim, “Gould will lead HBSE’s internal and external diversity and inclusion standards, programs and initiatives across the organization.”

Gould said in the press release: “I’m proud of the commitment made by our company and Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer to promote diversity and economic opportunity and publicly recognize the impact that systemic racism continues to have in our society. As a Black man and former college athlete, this work is deeply personal to me and I believe that the sports and entertainment industry has an important role to play in the push for social and racial equality. It’s an honor to be leading this new priority for HBSE and I am excited for the positive impact we will have for both our staff and communities.”

Harris and Blitzer put out the following statement: “We are thrilled to work with David Gould in his new capacity as Chief Diversity and Impact Officer. This role is a vital addition to our organization and we believe David’s leadership, passion and strategic mindset are incredibly valuable to our company and community members alike. This is an important step in our larger commitment towards equality and inclusion within our organization and in driving positive change in the communities we serve.”

Gould actually had previous experience in the HBSE organization. He was hired “earlier this year as the Executive Director of the Sixers Youth Foundation” for the 76ers. According to the press release, he “played a significant role in the development of HBSE’s racial equality action plan across the Devils and 76ers to support the communities in need, including Newark, Philadelphia and Camden during the COVID-19 crisis.” He worked during his time with the Sixers Youth Foundation to “serve youth through the rehabilitation of basketball courts in Greater Philadelphia, as well as providing safe youth basketball clinics and delivering lunches to thousands of children across underserved communities.”

Gould’s roles in this new position include: providing “executive leadership and guidance while working closely with company leaders, HBSE’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and the Human Resources department to implement a comprehensive inclusion and diversity strategy across HBSE.” He will also “be responsible for spearheading HBSE’s action plan and commitment to promise racial equality, including efforts to (1) invest in Black communities, (2) support Black and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, (3) promote education, health and employment opportunities for Black community members and (4) amplify and build workplaces founded in respect, diversity and inclusion across HBSE properties.”

He will also implement “best-in-class practices to ensure an inclusive and diverse work environment across all HBSE properties through recruitment, retention and professional development programs.” He will “work with team marketing and community relations to promote positive educational, health and employment outcomes for local communities.” His role will also include guiding “leaders in establishing and maintaining business practices that will invest in, support and grow minority-owned businesses.” Community relations will also be key as he will “be responsible for building relationships with community leaders to drive change and make an impact on the communities in which HBSE businesses operate.”

HBSE CEO Scott O’Neil said that “David Gould is an action-oriented, authentic leader with an outward mindset and the capacity to be an inspiring force for change; it is an honor to appoint him to the first-ever role of HBSE’s Chief Diversity and Impact Officer. David’s leadership and guidance played a critical role in shaping HBSE’s and Founders Josh Harris and David Blitzer’s $20 million commitment and action plan to address racial equality in the communities where we live, work and play. He brings a depth of experience in building platforms that drive advancement for Black entrepreneurs and communities, in both the private sector and with the City of Philadelphia; his perspective will be critical as we grow as an organization and community in empathy, respect and with racial equality in mind. With David’s engagement and passion, I am confident our organization, industry and community will rise together to celebrate diversity and equality, and move towards action.”

Gould previously worked “as the Deputy Director for Community Engagement and Communications for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney’s Rebuild initiative, a more than $400 million investment with the goal of revitalizing community spaces in low-income neighborhoods and promoting economic opportunity for those communities. As one of Rebuild’s Founding Members, Gould served on the leadership team that launched the program responsible for revitalizing community parks, recreation centers and libraries across Philadelphia; bringing construction opportunities for small, diverse businesses and creating jobs for women and people of color. He was also responsible for building relationships with community members and ensuring that their priorities were reflected in the investment made in their neighborhood.”

Gould also worked as a program officer at the William Penn Foundation. There, “he was responsible for exploring new areas of focus for the Foundation, specifically related to community development and impact investing.”

Gould grew up in Philly, in the Germantown section of the city. He went to college at the University of Rochester, where he played basketball and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Political Science. He got his Master’s Degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Public Administration. He has also taught graduate-level classes at Penn’s Weitzman School of Design.