Hockey Diversity Alliance asks NHL to postpone Flyers-Islanders, Golden Knights-Canucks

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The Hockey Diversity Alliance formally asked the NHL to suspend all playoff games on Thursday, according to a tweet from Evander Kane, co-leader of the group.“We strongly believe this sends a clear message that human rights take priority over sport,” Kane tweeted.

Sources told ESPN that the NHL and the NHL Players Association have been on communication for the past 24 hours, but the league will not initiate a shutdown unless there is a strong push from the side of the players.

The NHLPA will be holding a conference call with the players Thursday afternoon to get a feel for their position. In the meantime, the NHL has postponed several media availability scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot seven times by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as he attempted to enter through the driver’s side door of his vehicle. Video of the shoot was posted on social media, prompting more protests and prompting more athletes to speak out or take action.

NBA, Major League Baseball, MLS and WNBA games were postponed Wednesday night in protest of racial injustice. The NHL, however, completed its full three-game playoff list, including the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. These two teams are due to meet again on Thursday evening.

Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Thursday morning his players were discussing the possibility of boycotting their game, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET, although he predicted they would eventually decide to play.

“I know our team is having this discussion,” Trotz said. “I think we’re a pretty mature group. I trust this group and the leadership of guys like [captain] Other [Lee], and they’re great that way. They understand the importance of the playoffs, but they also understand where the world is right now.

“What happened yesterday, we weren’t really informed of what was going on. We were playing when it all happened. As you digest it, I think what happened last night is a great statement for the athletes. They have a great platform and have to use it. ”

Trotz’s counterpart, Flyers coach Alain Vigneault, said he was so focused on the series that he was unaware of the ongoing protests in other sports leagues on Wednesday.

“I really have no idea what’s going on in the outside world,” Vigneault said Thursday morning. “We’re in this bubble right now. I invest 24/7 in our team, working 20 hours a day on video and preparing our group. ”

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins players, who played at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday, said they only found out about the boycott of the NBA when they got to the rink, in which case they did. felt it was too late to have a full discussion on follow-up. suit. The NHL held a moment of reflection before this game, although it did not have a similar moment before the game in the Edmonton bubble for the Dallas Stars-Colorado Avalanche game.

Neither the Stars nor Avalanche said they had any discussions about the boycott.

“If our players, even one player, had come to me and said, ‘Hey, I don’t think we should be playing,’ then we would have approached it as a team. But I never heard from anyone in the room, ”Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “This is obviously an important subject. This is something we need to think about at length as a country. But I just think tonight might not be the time and place for us. ”

The Hockey Diversity Alliance was formed in June and is co-led by Kane, a San Jose Sharks winger, and Akim Aliu, a former player who made headlines in November when he stepped forward saying the coach of the Calgary Flames, Bill Peters, had used a racial insult against him. while they were with minors ten years ago. Peters resigned shortly thereafter.

The HDA executive committee includes prominent minority players in the NHL including Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, Buffalo Sabers forward Wayne Simmonds, Flyers forward. Chris Stewart and recently retired forward Joel Ward.

“We will strive to be a force for positive change, not only in our hockey game but in society,” the players said in a letter announcing the formation of the group in June. “While we are independent from the NHL, we hope we will work productively with the league to accomplish these important changes. We believe in the importance of accountability in developing inclusiveness and diversity for everyone involved in our sport, including fans and league offices. “

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