The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association have announced that they will postpone all games to be played on Thursday and Friday in a player-driven decision.
The news comes after a player-led boycott in the NBA sparked a movement across the sports world bringing athletes together to protest racial injustices after Jacob Blake was shot dead by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin earlier this week.
“After much discussion, NHL players believe the best course of action is to take a step back and not play tonight and tomorrow’s games as planned,” the NHL and NHLPA said in a joint statement. “The NHL supports the decision of the players and will postpone these four games from Saturday and adjust the rest of the schedule for the second round accordingly.
“Black and brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion that focuses on diversity, inclusion and social justice.
“We understand that the tragedies with Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment. We are committed to working to use our sport to influence positive change in society.
“The NHLPA and the NHL are committed to creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment in our arenas, offices and beyond.”
With this postponement, four Stanley Cup playoff games will be postponed. There were two second round matchups on Thursday: Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and the New York Islanders (scheduled for 7pm ET) and Game 3 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks (9.45pm ET). Two more would have appeared on Friday, with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins competing for game 4 of their series, followed by game 4 between the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
Earlier Thursday, the Hockey Diversity Alliance launched a public call to action urging the NHL to suspend the Games and join a historic time in the sports world and society at large.
“We the [HDA] officially asked the NHL to suspend all playoff games today, “HDA co-chief Evander Kane said in a statement tweeted Thursday. “We firmly believe that this sends a clear message that human rights take precedence over sport.”
The HDA, whose leadership group includes Kane, Matt Dumba, Nazem Kadri, Akim Aliu and Wayne Simmonds, hosted a conference call with a number of players inside the bubble on Thursday as talks continued throughout the day.
The move was initiated on Wednesday by Milwaukee Bucks from the NBA, who made the decision not to take the field for their 4pm ET tip against Orlando Magic for Game 5 of their first round playoff series. Instead, the Bucks – whose home court is just an hour’s drive north of Blake, an unarmed black man who was shot seven times by officers on Sunday – stayed in their locker room in the Orlando Bubble. From there, they reached out to Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, drafted a team statement to address the urgent need for real action in the face of anti-black racism and police brutality, and sparked a historic wave of action in the NBA and the sports community. They were joined by athletes from the WNBA, MLS, MLB and pro tennis, all of whom urged their respective leagues to take a break and make room for important conversation and action.
The NHL resumed their games on Wednesday night, taking a short break before the third game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins.