All of the NHL’s Thursday hockey games have been postponed following pressure from players to support calls for racial justice in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake by police, according to reports.
The move comes a day after players from every major North American sports league—WNBA, NBA, MLS, MLB—decided to strike in support of Blake and widespread protests against anti-Black racism and police brutality.
While basketball, baseball, soccer, and tennis players postponed games and issued statements against police brutality on Wednesday, the NHL offered a “moment of reflection” for Blake and then went ahead with all three scheduled games, two of which took place after the Milwaukee Bucks sparked the action. Heavy criticism ensued, alleging the NHL should have taken a stronger stance against racism, especially considering the league had a recent racial reckoning of its own.
San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, the co-head of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, spoke out against the NHL’s inaction.
“Actually it’s incredibly insulting as a black man in hockey the lack of action and acknowledgement from the NHL, just straight up insulting,” Kane said.
“Being the only Big 4 sports league that has predominantly white athletes, it would've been an even bigger statement to stand in solidarity with the other leagues,” one Twitter user said.
The hockey league responded to criticism on Thursday, finally postponing its ongoing playoffs. But onlookers say the move came too late, and is the latest example of the league flubbing an issue surrounding racism.
According to news reports, the NHL made the decision after the Hockey Diversity Alliance, which was formed this year to address racism in the league, formally requested suspensions of post-season games scheduled in Toronto and Edmonton.
“We strongly feel this sends a clear message that human rights take priority over sports, Ottawa Senators player and HDA board member Anthony Duclair said. “We should not stay silent towards systemic racism and any racial inequalities in our society.”
Kane he took to Twitter to remind followers the initiative was player-led, not spearheaded by the league. The same is true of the strikes that sparked across sports on Wednesday.
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