As NHL plays on amid unrest, some question whether words are enough: ‘I don’t think we should be here’

The NBA’s Bucks opted to sit out Game 5 of their first-round playoff series with the Magic on Wednesday following the shooting of another unarmed black man by police in Wisconsin. As a result, all three NBA playoff games on the slate for the night were postponed . MLB’s Brewers, Reds, Mariners and Padres also agreed to sit out their games  Wednesday night and the WNBA opted to not play their games as well.

As for the NHL, the two games scheduled to take place Aug. 26 went on a usual — Game 3s for the Lightning and Bruins in Toronto and Avalanche and Stars in Edmonton.

“I don’t expect the League to initiate a game stoppage,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “Obviously, our Players are free to express themselves in any manner they feel is appropriate.” 

But that message wasn’t shared by all members of the hockey community.

“I don’t think we should be here. I think the NHL should postpone the games,” Sportsnet’s Kelly Hrudey  said before the Bruins and Lightning game. “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. I’ve said many months ago when I made my video about Black Lives Matter, it means something to me and we’ve had many conversations with our family about this issue and I think we should continue on and today would be a great day to do that.

“And I think that the NHL is missing out. I think this would be an important night for many families to have the discussion again…I’m disappointed that we’re talking about hockey tonight.”

Sharks forward Evander Kane, a member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance,  spoke to Sportsnet’s David Amber Wednesday night  and also had strong words for the NHL and hockey community when asked what he would like to see the NHL do.

“First things first is, acknowledge it,” he said. “It’s another instance unfortunately that still hasn’t been acknowledged and we’re about what, three or four days in to 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 then as a black player in the league, it’s even more disappointing.”

The NHL did hold a “moment of reflection” prior to Bruins-Lightning.

During NBC Sports’ coverage of the Flyers vs. Islanders playoff game, Liam McHugh, Anson Carter and Keith Jones discussed the postponement of the NBA games.

“It’s crazy because the ‘Hockey Culture’ episodes are released every single week here at NBC Sports and people keep asking me, ‘Anson, is this enough? Can you do more?’ said Carter, a former NHLer and current in-studio analyst. “This was after George Floyd, what happened with him. You see this happen right after that [regarding Blake], clearly we could do more. Clearly we need to do more.”

Added Jones: “It’s interesting. It’s a day we’re going to remember forever. I think by the NBA players doing that, it’s going to be something that we’re all going to have to pay attention to. It’s a great statement by the players and by the league. I think it’s an outstanding job on their part and an awful situation again.”

Earlier in the day, TSN’s Farhan Lalji asked the Canucks and Golden Knights if they had seen the Blake video.

“Personally, I haven’t seen the video. I’ve heard all about the context and the incident and its heart-wrenching,” said the Canucks’ Troy Stecher. “It’s disgusting and just like anything in life, as a team, we need to come together and we need change and this is direct evidence of that.”

“I saw the video yesterday. It’s heartbreaking really,” said the Golden Knights Mark Stone. “It’s been an issue in the last couple of months especially. I’ve played with guys from tons of different races and they’re just teammates for me. I don’t look at them in any other way.”

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