The National Hockey League has suspended all playoff games scheduled for Thursday (Aug. 27) and Friday (Aug. 28).
In a joint statement released Thursday afternoon, the league and the players association said they “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.”
The move follows the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin on Sunday, an incident that kicked off a new surge of Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. The demonstrations come during a year that has seen ongoing protests since the end of May, after a video went viral of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling for several minutes on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man, who later died. The officer was subsequently charged with murder.
According to reports, the move by the NHL to cancel the games was led by the Vancouver Canucks. Multiple other professional sports leagues postponed games Wednesday (Aug. 26), including the NBA, WNBA, and MLS. Some MLB players also chose not to play.
Vancouver was scheduled to play the Las Vegas Golden Knights, in Game 3 of their best of seven series, on Thursday evening. The statement noted that all four games initially scheduled to be played on Thursday and Friday would be rescheduled to start Saturday (Aug. 29) and the remainder of the second round of playoffs would be adjusted accordingly.
The pause in play comes after the Hockey Diversity Alliance called on the NHL to suspend play tonight “to allow players and fans to reflect on what happened and to send a message that human rights must take priority over sport.”
Calls for the league to suspend play have come from both inside and outside the NHL. Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba, who was the first NHL player to take a knee before the start of a game earlier this summer, and San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, one of relatively few Black players in the league, have asked for play to be stopped.
In a tweet posted prior to the cancellation, Kane said it was “incredibly insulting” that the NHL did not follow the lead of other professional sports leagues. In lieu of suspending play, the NHL held a “moment of reflection” before one of its Wednesday games.
More to come.
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