NHL Postpones Playoff Games Tonight & Friday, Joining Protest Over Latest Police Shooting

The NHL has postponed its Stanley Cup Playoffs games set for tonight and Friday, joining the NBA and other pro sports leagues and teams in protesting the latest police shooting of a Black man. The news comes about an hour before tonight’s first of two games was set to start.

The announcement was made by the NHL and its players union in a statement:

“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 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.

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“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.”

The NHL noticeably was absent from the slew of game-postponements Wednesday, though its first game of the day already was in progress when the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks refused to take the court for their playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The NHL’s two later games went on as scheduled; members of the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning told NHL.com that they found out about the strikes as they were boarding on the bus for the rink. Bruins captain Zdano Chara said the teams didn’t have timne to consider not playing.

The Hockey Diversity Alliance issued a statement earlier today — signed by nine players of color — condemning the Blake shooting and responding to the NHL’s response to “the radical injustice and violence.” It also made the formal request to suspend today’s playoff games.

“The Hockey Diversity Alliance is deeply saddened by the Jacob Blake shooting — yet another example of police brutality against Black Americans that continues to go unabated and unaddressed in the communities where NHL teams play.

“Earlier today, the HDA formally requested that Commissioner [Gary] Bettman and the NHL suspend all playoff games today to allow players and fans to reflect on what happened and to send a message that human rights must take priority over sport.

“Since forming in June 2020, the HDA has sought partnerships with the NHL and minor hockey leagues throughout Canada and the United States. We asked the NHL to sign the HDA Pledge which includes commitments to funding grassroots programs for BIPOC youth, funding impactful social justice initiatives, anti-racism education, targets for hiring and promoting Black individuals and business, and rule changes to make the culture of the game more inclusive.

“We hope to be in position to announce an agreement in respect of the Pledge commitments before the end of the playoffs.”

Following the Bucks’ sit-out on Wednesday, the protests grew as the WNBA, MLS and some MLB teams postponed games. Earlier today, some NFL teams scrapped their practices over the shooting of Jacob Blake by a white policeman Sunday in Kenosha, WI.

The Philadelphia Flyers were slated to play the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. ET in the Toronto “bubble,” while the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver were to face off at 9:45 p.m. ET in the Edmonton bubble. Game 4s of the Bruins-Lightning series and Colorado Avalanche-Dallas Stars were set for Friday. All four will be rescheduled for the weekend, the league and its players union said.

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