The Hockey Diversity Alliance has officially called on the NHL to suspend all scheduled playoff games, and the NHL Players Association announced its decision to do so on Thursday afternoon.
“After much discussion, NHL players believe the best course of action would be to step back and not play tonight’s and tomorrow’s games as planned,” said a joint statement released by the league and the NHL Players Association. “Black and brown communities continue to face real and painful experiences. We understand that tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others force us to recognize this moment. We are committed to working to use our sport to influence positive change in society.
Today, the players in the NHL playoff bubble have become allies.
In an age of professional opportunity, they chose to put aside their athletic goals and stand up for the greater good. pic.twitter.com/9RI0QabW4k
– Hockey Diversity Alliance (@TheOfficialHDA) 27 août 2020
Canucks captain Bo Horvat and coach Travis Green spoke about the decision to call off Game 3 of the playoffs against the Las Vegan Golden Knights at a press conference.
Both said they were proud of the move and that it came after contacting the Golden Knights and Ryan Reaves, one of the league’s few black players.
“I felt like our group wanted to make sure the Vegas team knew, that Ryan knew they were behind him and wanted to have a conversation. I was behind them the entire time and stood behind them 100 percent no matter what decision they made and it’s hard not to be proud of them, ”Green said.
“We talked about it as a group and we wanted to go talk to Ryan [Reaves] and Vegas and we all thought it was the best course of action, ”Horvat said. “It was a really important decision and I think it was the right decision to make. We had to do something and take a stand and I think that’s the appropriate form of action.
Reaves said he struggled to decide whether or not to play, and didn’t decide what to do when he started receiving messages from players in the Eastern Bubble, and then from his opponents in the Western Conference.
“I got a text saying Vancouver wanted to talk. I think it was more powerful, that the conversation started with white players from other teams wanting to talk and I think that’s the most powerful thing that happened today, ”Reaves said.
“If you look around this room there are a lot of white athletes here and I think that’s the statement being made right now. It’s great that the NBA, MLB and WNBA have done this because they have a lot of black players in these leagues. But for all these athletes here to take a stand and say, you know what, we see the problem too and we’re behind you. I wage war with these guys and hate their guts on the ice, but I couldn’t be prouder.
– Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) 27 août 2020
Green said the cancellation of games was a way of signaling that there are “things more important than sport”.
“I’m sure our province is proud of them, but it’s not just about British Columbia, it’s bigger than that and society in general.
Reaves pointed out that Thursday’s action was a milestone for a league hesitant to tackle issues of systemic racism.
“The statement we made today is something that will last. These two days won’t help matters, but the conversations and statements that have been made are very powerful, especially from this league.