The Boston Bruins’ players announced Tuesday that they plan to lock arms during the playing of the American and Canadian national anthems as a sign of solidarity with the Black community.
“Over the past several months we have been trying to educate ourselves and learn more about racial injustice in our country and around the world,” the players said via a statement released on Twitter.
“As a team, we have decided to lock arms during the playing of the United States and Canadian anthems as a sign of solidarity with the Black community.”
“This action is solely intended to be a positive sign of support for the Black community,” the statement continued, “and a way for us to use our platform to help end racism.”
Later Tuesday, the Columbus Blue Jackets announced they will join the Bruins in locking arms during the anthems before their exhibition game Thursday.
The Bruins’ and Blue Jackets’ gesture comes amid a period of reflection throughout the hockey world about the impact of systemic racism both in and outside the sport. In early June, the Bruins released a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, stating their desire to help bring about change and to lead with their actions.
Veterans Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron were among the many NHLers to lend their support to that effort, the former marching in a Boston protest and the latter donating $50,000 to groups promoting racial equality.
While athletes throughout the sports world have followed in Colin Kaepernick’s footsteps in peacefully protesting racial injustice during the playing of the national anthem, few in the hockey world have taken that step. The first NHL player to do so was J.T. Brown back in 2017, then a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Though facing backlash as a result, Brown said at the time that he hoped to foster more discussion about long-needed change.
“I wanted to do something to show my support,” Brown said in 2017. “There are some issues that we have to talk about, so in my mind I’m just trying to bring a little more awareness and any type of conversation that we can get started would be great.”
The Bruins play the Columbus Blue Jackets in an exhibition game on July 28, before beginning their three-game round robin on Aug. 2.