Following backlash upon the league’s decision to continue with games as regularly scheduled on Wednesday afternoon and evening, while other sporting leagues across North America boycotted, the NHL has announced it will not be going forward with its planned matchups for Thursday and Friday.
The league will resume play on Saturday, following a player-led, two-day hiatus, in which those involved want the attention turned to the social injustice and racism experienced continually in the United States and Canada.
On Thursday morning, the nine-member Hockey Diversity Alliance (Akim Aliu, Evander Kane, Trevor Daley, Anthony Duclair, Matt Dumba, Nazem Kadri, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart, Joel Ward) wrote to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to formally request the NHL to suspend playoff games, in hoping that attention can be shifted to human rights over sports, even just for a brief moment in time.
The letter read:
“The Hockey Diversity Alliance is deeply saddened by the Jacob Blake shooting — yet another example of police brutality against Black Americans that continues to go unabated and unaddressed in the communities where NHL teams play.
Earlier today, the HDA formally requested that Commissioner 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.
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 HDA 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.
We hope to be in a position to announce an agreement in respect of the Pledge commitments before the end of the playoffs.”
Reports indicate that this decision was player-led, meaning the many rostered players from within the eight remaining playoff teams pushed for this outcome, following the significant public outcry. The Vancouver Canucks were also reportedly helping drive the charge, as members of the team spoke with Vegas’ Ryan Reaves in depth Thursday morning in hopes of coming to a resolution.
Roughly 100 players within the bubble participated in a phone call with Evander Kane and Mathew Dumba Thursday morning, before the NHL Players’ Association jumped on a call with the eight teams, to sort out scheduling logistics. With the original thought of the NHL only taking Thursday off, and bumping back the game calendar one day, however, it was deemed that all eight teams should be involvement in the postponement, leading to the two-day break from action.
More information as to scheduling will be available as it presents itself.