EDMONTON (NEWS 1130) – The Canucks stood shoulder to shoulder with their rivals on the ice Thursday to speak about the decision to halt the playoffs in protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake and claim the movement against racism and police brutality support.
The NHL games took place Wednesday night after the Milwaukee Bucks led a protest against police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Blake, a 29-year-old black man who was unarmed, was shot seven times in the back. Blake remains in the hospital paralyzed from the waist down. Since the shooting on Sunday, Kenosha has become the latest venue for protests against the racial injustices that have gripped the US since the May 25 murder of George Floyd.
The Hockey Diversity Alliance officially asked the NHL to suspend all scheduled playoff games, and the NHL Player’s Association announced the decision to do so on Thursday afternoon.
“After much discussion, NHL players believe the best course of action is to step back and not play tonight and tomorrow’s games as planned,” said a joint statement from the league and the NHL Players’ Association. “Black and brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. We understand that the tragedies with Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others require us to recognize this moment. We are committed to using our sport to influence positive change in society. “
Today the players of the NHL playoff bubble became allies.
In a time of professional opportunity, they decided to put their sporting goals aside and work for the common good. pic.twitter.com/9RI0QabW4k
– Hockey Diversity Alliance (@TheOfficialHDA) August 27, 2020
Canucks captain Bo Horvat and coach Travis Green spoke at a press conference about the decision to cancel Game 3 of the playoffs against the Las Vegan Golden Knights.
Both said they were proud of the move and it was made after reaching out to the Golden Knights and Ryan Reaves, one of the league’s few black players.
“I got a feeling our group wanted to make sure the Vegas team knew Ryan knew they were standing behind him and wanted to have a conversation. I’ve been behind them all the way and supported them 100 percent in every decision they made and it’s hard not to be proud of them, “said Green.
“We talked about it as a group and wanted to go over and talk to Ryan [Reaves] and Vegas and we all just thought it was the best course of action, ”Horvat said. “It was a really important decision and I think it was the right decision. We had to do something and take a stand and I think that is the appropriate form of action. “
Reaves said he was struggling to decide whether to play or not and not what to do when he received messages from players in the eastern bubble and then from his opponents in the western conference.
“I received a text that said Vancouver wanted to speak. I think that was more powerful, the conversation started with white players on other teams who wanted to talk and I think that’s the most powerful thing that happened today, “said Reaves.
“If you look around this room there are a lot of white athletes here and I think that’s the statement that is being made. It’s great that the NBA, MLB, and WNBA have done this. You have a lot of black players in these leagues. But so that all of these athletes take a stand and say you know what, we also see the problem and stand behind you. I’m going to war with these guys and I hate their guts on the ice, but I couldn’t be more proud. “
– Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) August 27, 2020
Green said canceling games is a way to signal that there are “things bigger than sports“.
“I’m sure our province is proud of them, but it’s not just about BC, it’s bigger than that and it’s about society in general.”
Reaves stressed that Thursday’s action was an important step for a league reluctant to deal with issues of systemic racism.
“The statement we made today will last. These two days won’t change anything, but the conversations and statements that have been made are very powerful, especially from this league. “