The two NHL playoff games scheduled for Aug. 27 and Aug. 28 won’t be played after members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance reached out to players inside the league’s two bubble sites, the NHL and NHLPA announced in a joint statement.
The decision came a day after the NHL was the only league not impacted by the player strikes started by the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks to draw attention to the latest incident of police brutality against a Black man that was captured on video.
“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 statement read. “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 Hockey Diversity Alliance was formed in June in the aftermath after George Floyd’s death at the hands of police in Minneapolis that led to protests worldwide as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. The members include San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and former Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
The Flyers were scheduled to play the New York Islanders, and the Vegas Golden Knights were slated to play the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. On Friday, the Boston Bruins were to face the Tampa Bay Lightning with the Colorado Avalanche scheduled to take on the Dallas Stars.
The the same pair of games each night will be played Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Three games in both the NBA and WNBA, three MLB and five MLS games were postponed on Aug. 26, days after Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by police in Kenosha, Wis. The WNBA announced it postponed its three games on Aug. 27, with players declaring it “a day of reflection.” The NBA also postponed its games scheduled for Aug. 27.
Several players on the Hockey Diversity Alliance spoke out in the news media and on Twitter criticizing the NHL’s commitment to racial equality and for playing games as other leagues did not.
“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,” the Hockey Diversity Alliance said in a statement.
“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 H A 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 businesses, and rule changes to make the culture of the game more inclusive.”
The NHL and NHLPA said in their joint statement they were “committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”