TORONTO (NEWS 1130) – The National Hockey League is being accused by many of doing the bare minimum as it’s called out for failing to cancel games in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protests.
As a number of sports leagues, including the NBA, MLS, and MLB, went dark on Wednesday night, the NHL proceeded with its scheduled games.
Hockey’s decision to instead hold a “moment of reflection” at two of the games didn’t go over well with many players, athletes, fans, and analysts.
Players, commentators, and fans weigh in on the NHL's choice to play Wednesday's games while much of the sports world went dark in support of Black Lives Matter protests: more on @NEWS1130 this morning. https://t.co/qeMdflcxPF
— Ash 'I work from home now' Kelly (@AshDKelly) August 27, 2020
Former player and current Sportsnet 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 the games. I really feel that we should be more supportive of Black Lives Matter,” he said.
“I’d prefer to be having this conversation with my family. I’ve said, many months ago, when I made my video about Black Lives Matter, it means something to me,” Hrudey said while speaking to his Sportsnet panel.
His comments came as a number of sports stars continue to protest racial inequality, the latest catalyst being the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the weekend.
NHL players were also among those disappointed with the lack of action.
In an appearance on Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday, Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba — who raised a fist to highlight social and racial justice issues during the anthems of his qualifying-series game against the Vancouver Canucks earlier this month — said the league’s decision to hold playoff games Wednesday, despite cancellations across other leagues, is “disheartening,” but expected.
“I know what’s going to happen, and I don’t think much is going to happen from that standpoint. But it’s just back to it, I don’t know, the NHL we’re always late to the party, especially on these topics, so it’s sorta sad and disheartening for me and other members of the HDA, and I’m sure other guys across the league,” said Dumba.
He and San Jose left winger Evander Kane are faces of the Hockey Diversity Alliance and are some of hockey’s strongest proponents for the need to address anti-Black racism in the sport.
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) August 27, 2020
Kane told Sportsnet’s David Amber on Wednesday that it’s “disappointing” the NHL has yet to acknowledge Blake.
“It’s another instance, unfortunately, that still hasn’t been acknowledged and we’re about, what? Three or four days into this video being released, or this incident occurring? And I still haven’t seen or heard anything in regards to it, so that’s disappointing and as a Black player in this league, it’s even more disappointing,” Kane said.
Blake, 29, was shot several times in the back by officers on Sunday. The shooting happened in front of his children and left him paralyzed from the waist down.
Players the driving force
The decision to cancel and postpone games was largely led by players who said they have had enough of racial injustice, and that more needs 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 the Blake shooting.
“We’re tired of the killings and the injustice,” Bucks guard George Hill told The Undefeated’s Marc J. Spears following the Bucks’ decision to boycott.
Full statement from the Milwaukee Bucks: pic.twitter.com/jjGEyVcCmB
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 26, 2020
The Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder announced shortly after the Bucks’ decision that they would also be boycotting their game Wednesday, and the Lakers and Trail Blazers quickly followed suit ahead of their own Game 5 as players step away from the court in protest.
It’s unclear if anything will be done ahead of the Vancouver Canucks match up against the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday night.