The NHL and NHL Players’ Association have announced the postponement of all games scheduled to take place Thursday and Friday in a player-driven decision.
The news comes after a player-led boycott in the NBA jump-started a movement across the sporting world, bringing athletes together to protest racial injustices in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting earlier this week by police in Kenosha, Wis.
“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 and NHLPA said in a joint statement. “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 NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”
This postponement will see four Stanley Cup Playoff games rescheduled. Thursday’s schedule featured two second-round matchups: Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders (scheduled for 7 p.m. ET), and Game 3 of Vegas Golden Knights vs. Vancouver Canucks (9:45 p.m. ET). Friday would have seen two more, with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins set to face-off for Game 4 of their series, followed by Game 4 between the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
Earlier on Thursday, the Hockey Diversity Alliance put out a public call-to-action, pushing the NHL to suspend competition after moving forward with games as scheduled on Wednesday despite the widespread action from other leagues, and urging them join what has been an historic time across the sporting world and society as a whole.
“We the [HDA] have formally requested the NHL to suspend all playoff games today,” HDA co-head Evander Kane said in a statement tweeted out Thursday. “We strongly feel this sends a clear message that human rights take priority over sports.”
The HDA, whose leadership group includes Kane, Matt Dumba, Nazem Kadri, Akim Aliu and Wayne Simmonds, also led a conference call with a number of players inside the bubble on Thursday as talks continued throughout the day.
The widespread player strike was initiated Wednesday by the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, who made the decision not to take the court for their 4 p.m. ET tip-off against the 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 where Blake, an unarmed Black man, was shot seven times by officers on Sunday — remained in their locker room in the Orlando bubble. From there, they contacted Wisconsin attorney general Josh Kaul, formed a team statement to address the urgent need for real action in the face of anti-Black racism and police brutality, and set off a historic wave of action around the NBA and sports community. They were joined by athletes across the WNBA, MLS, MLB and pro tennis, all urging their respective leagues to press pause and make way for crucial conversations and action.