The NHL announced its four Stanley Cup Playoff games scheduled for Thursday and Friday have been postponed after the players on all eight remaining teams decided not to play as a form of protest against systemic racism and police brutality.
“After much discussion, NHL players believe that the best course of action would be to take a step back and not play tonight’s and tomorrow’s games as scheduled,” the NHL and NHL Players’ Association said in a statement. “The NHL supports the players’ decision and will reschedule those four games beginning Saturday and adjust the remainder of the Second Round schedule accordingly.”
The two games on Thursday were Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Second Round between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, and Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round between the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks, scheduled for 9:45 p.m. ET at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The two games Friday were Game 4 of the East Second Round between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning in Toronto, and Game 4 of the West Second Round between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.
The NHL postponements came after all three NBA playoff games scheduled to be played near Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday were postponed, a decision spurred by the police shooting Sunday of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The WNBA also postponed its three scheduled games for both Wednesday and Thursday in Bradenton, Florida. There were postponements in Major League Baseball each day, and in Major League Soccer on Wednesday. Several NFL teams canceled practice Thursday.
The NBA announced Thursday it is hoping to resume its playoffs either Friday or Saturday.
The NHL played its three games scheduled for Wednesday: a 3 p.m. ET game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers, and an 8 p.m. ET game between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, each played in Toronto, the East hub city; and a 10:30 p.m. ET game between the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars, played in Edmonton, the West hub city.
“Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice,” the NHL and NHLPA said. “We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment. We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.
“In this moment, the NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said his players were discussing whether to play to play Thursday morning.
“They understand the importance of the playoffs, but they also understand where the world is right now and what happened yesterday,” Trotz said before the decision not to play. “We weren’t really quite informed what was happening (on Wednesday); we were playing when all this happened, and then as you get to digest it, I think what happened last night is a great statement for the athletes. They have a great platform, and they used it.”
Blake was mentioned during a moment of reflection prior to the Lightning’s 7-1 win against the Bruins in Game 3.
“I don’t think anything feels right right now,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said Thursday before the postponements. “So much education that needs to go on. I know that the players, they battle hard on the ice, they compete against each other, they also stand together too. As an organization, as a League — I don’t know how to say it — these events are happening, and I think it’s time to digest. It’s hard for me to answer right now.
“I said last night one night of sleep is not enough to digest. I know since communicating with our team and being open with what’s going on, I think that’s a good step for us moving forward and we’ll see what happens here.”