NHL playoff games postponed to Thursday, Friday to protest racism

The NHL announced that its four Stanley Cup Playoff games scheduled for Thursday and Friday have been postponed after players on all eight remaining teams decided not to play as a form of protest against systemic racism and police brutality.

“After much discussion, NHL players believe the best deal would be to take a step back and not play tonight’s and tomorrow’s games as planned,” the NHL and NHL Players’ Association said in a statement. “The NHL supports the players’ decision and will reschedule those four games starting Saturday and adjusting the rest of the Second Round schedule.”

The two games on Thursday were Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders, scheduled for 7 pm ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, and Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round between the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks, scheduled for 9:45 p.m. ET at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The two games Friday were Game 4 of the East Second Round between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto, and Game 4 of the West Second Round between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

The NHL proposal came after all three NBA playoff games scheduled for Wednesday in Orlando, Florida, were postponed, a decision prompted by the police shooting Sunday of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The WNBA also postponed its three scheduled games on Wednesday to Thursday, and there were postponements every day in Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer. Several NFL teams canceled the practice Thursday.

The NBA announced Thursday that it hopes to reschedule its playoffs on Friday and Saturday.

The NHL played its three games scheduled for Wednesday: a 3 pm ET game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers, and an 8 pm ET game between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, each played in Toronto, the city of ‘ an East hub; and a 10:30 a.m. ET game between the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, played in Edmonton, the city of the West hub.

“Black and brown communities continue to have 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 focused on diversity, inclusion and social justice,” the NHL said. NHLPA, “We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require that we recognize this moment. We promise to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.

“Right now, the NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to promote more inclusive and hospitable environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”

Islanders coach Barry Trotz said his players have discussed whether they could play to play Thursday morning.

“They understand the importance of the playoffs, but they also understand where the world is right now and what happened yesterday,” Trotz said before deciding not to play. “We were not really informed what happened (on Wednesday); we played when it all happened, and if you digest it, I think what happened yesterday is a great explanation for the athletes. They have a great platform, and they used it. “

Blake was named in a moment of reflection ahead of Lightning’s 7-1 victory over the Bruins in Game 3.

“I do not think there is anything right now,” lightning coach Jon Cooper said Thursday before the postponement. “So much training that has to go on. I know the players, they fight hard on the ice, they fight against each other, they also stand together. As an organization, as a league – I do not know how to say it – these events happened, and I think it’s time to digest.It’s bad for me to answer right now.

“I said last night that one night of sleep is not enough to digest. I know since communicating with our team and being open with what is happening, I think that is a good step forward for us and we will see what happens here. “