An End Racism message is displayed before the start of the first period NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference playoff hockey action as Boston Bruins play Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

An End Racism message is displayed before the start of the first period NHL Stanley Cup Eastern Conference playoff hockey action as Boston Bruins play Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Analyst says NHL should have postponed playoff games after NBA boycott

NHL players are discussing how to protest racial injustice after NBA, other professional leagues postponed games

Hockey analyst Kelly Hrudey wanted the NHL to respond in a meaningful way after NBA teams boycotted their playoff games Wednesday in the wake of the weekend shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police in Wisconsin.

The NHL, which did not postpone any of its three games Wednesday, held a “moment of reflection” instead before the Boston Bruins played the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series in Toronto.

But Hrudey, a former NHL goaltender, felt the league should have gone further after the shooting of Blake and the NBA’s decision.

“I don’t think we should be here. I think the NHL should postpone the games,” Hrudey said on a TV hit on NHL Canadian rights-holder Sportsnet before puck drop at Scotiabank Arena. “I really feel we should be more supportive of Black Lives Matter.

“I know for myself, instead of watching hockey I’d prefer to be having this conversation with my family.”

NHL players are discussing options to protest racial injustice after the NBA and other professional sports leagues postponed games, according to a person with knowledge of those talks.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity early Thursday because those discussions were private.

Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara was asked if there was any discussion about not playing before a 7-1 loss.

“Like I said, it was so close to our game,” Chara said. “After our pre-game meal we took naps and we were on the bus so I don’t think anyone was watching the TV until we got to the rink and obviously it was too close to the game to start any discussions or trying to move the games to different dates.”

Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri said he had thoughts about not playing before his team’s 6-4 win over the Dallas Stars in Edmonton.

“It crosses your mind when you see other leagues doing something like that,” Kadri said. “We support and applaud the NBA for taking those circumstances. I understand this is a problem that’s gone on for far too long … Eventually words get stale and it’s about action and making a difference.”

The Milwaukee Bucks were first to boycott when they didn’t take the floor for Game 5 of their first-round playoff series with the Orlando Magic at Lake Buena Vista, Fla., in the late afternoon. The NBA later announced that all three of the day’s scheduled playoff games had been postponed. No announcement has been made on Thursday’s Toronto Raptors-Boston Celtics game.

Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba, who knelt for the American anthem on the first day of the NHL’s restart in Edmonton earlier this month, praised NBA players on Twitter.

“NBA Players leading! WE STAND WITH YOU AND DEMAND CHANGE!” the Regina native said.

Dumba later said in an interview with Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver that the NHL is “always last to the party on these topics.”

Lightning coach Jon Cooper was asked about Dumba’s comments after his team’s win.

“I know the league and the people running it … at some point everything will be addressed, and we’ll get ourselves up to speed and support what needs to be done,” he said.

The Bucks’ move resonated around the sports world.

The Milwaukee Brewers and the Cincinnati Reds opted not to play their Major League Baseball game on Wednesday night. MLB followed with postponements of a Los Angeles Dodgers-San Francisco Giants game and a Seattle Mariners-San Diego Padres contest. All three WNBA games on the league’s schedule were also postponed.

The Toronto Blue Jays, meanwhile, went ahead with their home game against the Boston Red Sox in Buffalo, N.Y., which started about an hour after the Bucks had boycotted.

Manager Charlie Montoyo said his team didn’t have time to discuss sitting out Wednesday night, but he expects to have that conversation before Thursday’s game.

“I understand and support the teams that have decided not to play, but it was right before the game when we found out and the players were already out there. So we proceeded to play,” Montoyo said.

“We’re going to discuss it and see where we go with this.”

READ MORE: NBA postpones all games tonight after players protest

Tennis did go on at the Western & Southern Open in New York, but the tournament announced after Wednesday’s final match it would not hold play Thursday and plans to resume Friday. One of the sport’s top players, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, dropped out of Thursday’s semifinals hours after winning her quarterfinal.

Canada’s Milos Raonic, who won his quarterfinal, says it’s imperative both the men’s and women’s tours come together in a hurry to have a discussion about what’s next.

“Having a sign somewhere of support, banners at a tournament or wearing a shirt in a warmup in an NBA game, it can only do so much,” he said. “I think real disruption … that’s what makes change. I think a lot of real disruption is caused by affecting people in a monetary way. That can force some kind of change.”

Blake was shot multiple times by police in Kenosha, about 65 kilometres south of Milwaukee. The Blake family’s lawyer said Blake was paralyzed and that it would “take a miracle” for him to walk again.

The shooting of the 29-year-old Blake was captured on cellphone video Sunday and ignited protests in Kenosha and elsewhere.

Hrudey said the NHL was “missing out” on important discussions about racial injustice by not postponing its games.

“This would be an important night for many families to have the discussion again. … So I’m disappointed that we’re talking about hockey tonight,” he said.

The league unveiled its #WeSkateFor campaign when it restarted its pandemic-delayed season — with #WeSkateForBlackLives and #WeSkateForEquality banners featured behind the nets in both buildings hosting the resumption of play.

On Wednesday, a public address announcer at Scotiabank Arena read a statement before a brief moment of reflection, saying “the NHL and the hockey community are committed in the mission to combat racial injustice.”

“The NHL would like to take this moment to wish Jacob Blake and his family well, and call out to our fans and communities to stand up for social justice and the effort to end racism,” the announcer continued.

Canadian soccer player Diana Matheson urged the NHL to do more.

“Come on NHL, step up,” she tweeted, adding the Black Lives Matter hashtag.

Canadian women’s hockey team member Sarah Nurse was also critical.

“Black Lives are more important than sports. PERIOD,” she tweeted. “I’m going to need hockey, especially, to understand that.”

Meanwhile, Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore posed a question to Major League Soccer.

“@MLS what are you going to do,” Altidore tweeted.

MLS ended up postponing five of six games on Wednesday night.

Toronto FC is scheduled to play in Montreal against the Impact on Friday night. The MLS Players Association tweeted its support for the NBA boycott.

READ MORE: Father says Black Wisconsin man shot by police is paralyzed

— With files from The Associated Press

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
30 new COVID-19 cases, five more deaths in Interior Health

This brings the total number of cases to 7,271 since testing began

West Kelowna City Hall on Cameron Road. (File photo)
Rose Valley water treatment facility to cost less than planned

The contract of $45.1 million was awarded to developer Maple Reinders Constructors Ltd .

Crash on Enterprise Way, Feb 23. (Jen Zielinski, Black Press Media)
Tuesday evening’s commute stalled by 3 vehicle collision

The incident backed up traffic on Enterprise Way at Dilworth Drive

A $3,000 donation from the Gary Bennett Family Fund will go towards baby products for families in need. (Central Okanagan Food Bank)
Okanagan charity donates $3,000 to support young families

The Gary Bennett Family Fund donated to Central Okanagan Food Bank

Project rendering of Hadgraft Wilson Place (CNW Group/Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation)
68-unit affordable housing complex coming downtown Kelowna

The six-storey complex located on Fuller Ave is set to be completed by fall 2022

Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.'s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
456 new COVID-19 cases in B.C., 2 deaths

Since January 2020, 78,278 have tested positive for the novel coronavirus in B.C.

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Vaccinating essential workers before seniors in B.C. could save lives: experts

A new study says the switch could also save up to $230 million in provincial health-care costs

The late Michael Gregory, 57, is accused of sexually exploiting six junior high students between 1999 and 2005. (Pixabay)
Former Alberta teacher accused of sexually assaulting students found dead in B.C.

Mounties say Michael Gregory’s death has been deemed ‘non-suspicious’

According to a new poll, a majority of Canadians want to see illicit drugs decriminalized. (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Majority of Canadians think it’s high time to decriminalize illicit drugs: poll

More than two-times the B.C. residents know someone who died from an overdose compared to rest of Canada

Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Ranchero Deep Creek firefighters respond to a blaze involving two adjacent structures at a property off of Deep Creek Road on Sunday, Feb. 21. The buildings were believed to have been used as part of a cannabis growing operation, and RCMP are investigating. (Sean Coubrough/CSRD photo)
Shuswap firefighters responding to structure blaze find cannabis grow operation

RCMP investigating, attempting to track down owner of property

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Interior Health officially declared a COVID-19 outbreak at Creekside Landing in Vernon on Jan. 3, which was followed by the first death from the virus 10 days later. (Kaigo photo)
COVID outbreak over at Vernon care home

Creekside Landing cleared of coronavirus, despite additional death in last day

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: The freedom to read

Books have been challenged many times in the past

Most Read