NHL players decide against playing games Thursday and Friday

Sean Leahy
·4 min read

NHL players have decided against playing Thursday and Friday night in solidarity with other athlete protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

One day after teams from the NBA, WNBA, MLS and Major League Baseball did not play, the NHL postponed four games — one from each of the four remaining Second Round series — that were set to take place in Toronto and Edmonton.

Thursday’s schedule was to feature Game 3 of the Islanders-Flyers series and Game 3 of the Golden Knights-Canucks series. Game 4 of Bruins-Lightning and Game 4 of Avalanche-Stars was to take place Friday.

The Second Round will resume on Saturday.

Here is the joint statement from the NHLPA and NHL:

After much discussion, NHL Players believe that the best course of action would be to take a step back and not play tonight’s and tomorrow’s games as scheduled. The NHL supports the Players’ decision and will reschedule those four games beginning Saturday and adjust the remainder of the Second Round schedule accordingly.

Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice.

We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment. We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.

The NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.

[MORE: NHL players speak on decision to postpone playoff games]

Hockey Diversity Alliance pushes postponement

Members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, including Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds, Akim Aliu, Anthony Duclair, and Matt Dumba pushed for the NHL to not play.

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, more than 100 players in the Toronto/Edmonton bubbles had a call to discuss a plan with Kane and Dumba, who was the first NHL player to take a knee during the U.S. national anthem.

After other leagues decided not to play Wednesday, the Bruins, Lightning, Avalanche, and Stars continued their series. A “moment of reflection” was held in Toronto prior to Bruins-Lightning, but that did not happen later in Edmonton before Avalanche-Stars.

“It’s kind of sad and disheartening for me and for members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance — and I’m sure for other guys across the league,” Dumba told Sportsnet 650 Wednesday. “But if no one stands up and does anything, then it’s the same thing: that silence. You’re just outside looking in on actually being leaders and evoking real change when you have such an opportunity to do so.”

[MORE: Activism halts sports world]

“The [anti-racism] signs are great, but eventually words get stale,” said Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri, who is also a member of the HDA. “It’s about action and making a difference.”

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara expressed his support for NBA players and explained that there was little time to discuss a plan before Game 3 of their series with Tampa.

“Definitely we support NBA players, and all the leagues that show their support,” he said. “Obviously it was so close to our game that we were just getting ready. Pretty much say what Patrice said. We support the fight against racism and injustice. There’s different ways to express that fight. Obviously NBA players expressed their opinions by boycotting the games today. We support it.”

After meeting Wednesday night and Thursday morning, NBA players voted to resume the playoffs this weekend. The NBA and WNBA will not play Thursday. Major League Baseball is also facing possible postponements, while there were no MLS games scheduled for Thursday.

MORE:
Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL players decide against playing games Thursday and Friday originally appeared on NBCSports.com