NHL teams hold moments of solidarity ahead of Stanley Cup playoff games

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The Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders played ahead of Eastern Conference Second Round games at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, and the Golden Knights de Vegas and the Vancouver Canucks did so before the Western Conference game at Rogers Place in Edmonton. .Prior to the playing of the national anthems of Canada and the United States in Game 4 between the Lightning and the Bruins, a video was released highlighting the need for advancement in hockey and society, including the phrase “Equality is the only way forward ”. Lightning Defender Kevin Shattenkirk then appeared in a pre-recorded message.

“I think for us the decision to postpone our games and be absent (Thursday and Friday) was seen as an opportunity to highlight a bigger issue than hockey,” said Shattenkirk. “We wanted to make sure that every black player in this league could feel safe and feel like they had a voice. We want to make sure that we continue this conversation and that we continue to advance the sport in the right way. good. ”

It was followed by similar videos of the Bruins forwards Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

“It was amazing to see everyone coming together and realizing it’s bigger than sport,” said Bergeron. “It’s about human rights. It’s about supporting our black players, being there for them and realizing that there has to be a change. We want to be part of this change in the future. So this is just the start. Obviously, we know that there needs to be thinking, discussions and conversations, but there also needs to be actions. We want to be there for it. ”

The game was the first since players from the eight teams remaining in the Stanley Cup playoffs decided not to play Thursday and Friday in protest of systemic racism and police brutality. It was scheduled for Friday.

“Obviously, a time for reflection for the League”, the Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk said after the game, a 3-1 loss. “For us it was, obviously, there were bigger things than hockey. It’s probably one of the things we’ve focused on the most here, and even since the start of the playoffs. We just wanted to take a stand and show our support. It’s one of those things that obviously yesterday there were a lot of different things. I mean, playoffs and playoffs, and you can name it. But obviously it’s real world things like that that affect everything and definitely hits home. ”

Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk and Islanders defenseman Ryan Puolock appeared in a video ahead of Game 3 of this series.

“It was good to see the players come together and have discussions over the last few days and learn about issues much more important than the sport of hockey,” said van Riemsdyk. “Regarding the postponement of matches, we felt it was the right thing to do for us to stand together and support the black players in our league and also start a conversion on these ongoing issues and hopefully the, lead to action and changes to come. . ”

Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves and Canucks forward Bo Horvat spoke on video ahead of Game 3 of this series.

“In the past two days, a predominantly white sport has decided to take two days off, to get away from the game to talk about black issues in North America,” Reaves said. “For these athletes to stand aside and say, ‘I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes, I don’t know what your people are going through on a daily basis, but we see the problem and we are behind you’, it ‘ is a very impactful and strong statement. ”

In a conference call Friday, the Lightning advocate Braydon Coburn respectfully declined to answer a hockey-related question, citing a desire to focus on the social issues involved. Coburn was with the defender Luke Schenn, who said the excitement after a 7-1 win in Game 3 was lackluster on Wednesday.

“After most of the playoff games you get a win, everybody’s cheering and cheering,” Schenn said in Toronto, downtown East. “After the last game, it wasn’t like that at all. We entered the room and were made aware of what was going on. The conversation quickly changed. Obviously, you’re in the middle of a playoff series, but there’s more going on outside of the game itself. ”

Following the victory, the Lightning were told that NBA players boycotted playoff games on Wednesday after a white policeman shot Jacob Blake, a black man, at least seven times in the back at Kenosha, in the Wisconsin, Sunday. Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer and WNBA players have also boycotted games, and several NFL practices have been called off in the past three days.

Defender of Shattenkirk and Bruins Zdeno Chara joined the New York Islanders forward Anders Lee and van Riemsdyk to represent the Eastern Conference for a press conference Thursday regarding the decision to postpone games.

“It’s obviously a little different at the start of today’s game,” said the Lightning defenseman. Victor Hedman said Saturday. “The last 48 hours, the conversations that we’ve had within our team and throughout the bubble, interacting with other teams, it’s been about anything but hockey. Today was a different day. But we are happy to come back to play. to show what a team can do when you really come together as a group. We’re obviously very happy with the end of the game, but I’m not going to lie, it was a little different, obviously, coming into the game today. ”

In Edmonton, the central city of the Western Conference, Reaves, Horvat, Colorado Avalanche Centers Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, and Nazem Kadri, and Dallas Stars striker Jason Dickinson held a press conference at the same time on Thursday. They were flanked by peers, representing each of the four remaining Western teams.

“We are not political,” Marchand said on Friday. “That’s not the point, and that’s not what we’re here for. Changes need to be made across society. It’s bigger than hockey right now. It’s bigger than sport. even. “



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