Hockey’s decision to instead hold a two-game “moment of reflection” was not well received by many players, athletes, fans and analysts.
Players, commentators and fans weigh in on NHL’s choice to play Wednesday’s games as much of the sports world has fallen into obscurity in support of Black Lives Matter protests: more info on @ NEWS1130 this morning. https://t.co/qeMdflcxPF
– Ash ‘I work from home now’ Kelly (@AshDKelly) August 27, 2020
Former Sportsnet player and current broadcaster Kelly Hrudey said the league was offside in its decision.
“I don’t think we should be here. I think the NHL should postpone games. I really think we should be more supportive of Black Lives Matter, ”he said.
“I prefer to have this conversation with my family. I said this several months ago when I made my video on Black Lives Matter, it means something to me, ”Hrudey said speaking to his Sportsnet panel.
His comments came as a number of sports stars continue to protest racial inequalities, the latest catalyst being the murder of Jacob Blake, a black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this weekend.
NHL players were also disappointed with the lack of action.
In an appearance on Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba – who raised a fist to highlight social and racial justice concerns during the anthems of his qualifying series game against the Vancouver Canucks earlier this month – said the league’s decision to host the playoffs. Wednesday, despite cancellations in other leagues, is “disheartening” but expected.
“I know what’s going to happen, and I don’t think much will happen from that point of view. But that’s just coming back to it, I don’t know, the NHL we’re always late to the party, especially on these topics, so it’s kinda sad and disheartening for me and the other HDA members, and I’m sure other guys from all over the league, ”Dumba said.
He and San Jose left winger Evander Kane are faces of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and are among hockey’s strongest supporters for the need to tackle anti-black racism in the sport.
In fact, it’s incredibly insulting as a black man in hockey @nhl’s lack of action and recognition, just plain insulting. https://t.co/1KrpUvFhaQ
– Evander Kane (@ evanderkane_9) 27 août 2020
Kane told Sportsnet’s David Amber on Wednesday that it was “disappointing” that the NHL had yet to recognize Blake.
“This is another example, unfortunately, that still hasn’t been recognized and we’re on, what? Three or four days after this video came out, or is this happening? And I still haven’t seen or heard anything about it so it’s disappointing and as a black player in this league it’s even more disappointing, ”Kane said.
Blake, 29, was shot multiple times in the back by officers on Sunday. The shooting happened in front of his children and left him paralyzed from waist to feet.
The players, the driving force
The decision to cancel and postpone games was largely led by players who said they were fed up with racial injustice and more needed to be done to address the issue.
The NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks refused to play a playoff game against the Orlando Magic in the wake of Blake’s shootout.
“We’re tired of the murders and the injustice,” Bucks guard George Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears following the Bucks’ decision to boycott.
Full Milwaukee Bucks statement: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB
– Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) 26 août 2020
The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder announced shortly after the Bucks’ decision that they would also boycott their game on Wednesday, and the Lakers and Trail Blazers quickly followed suit ahead of their own Game 5 as the players moved away from the ground to protest.
It’s unclear if anything will be done before the Vancouver Canucks game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.