Professional athletes across the NBA, WNBA, MLB, and MLS commenced a strike prior to their games Wednesday in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, racial injustice, and systematic oppression. However, one professional league did not take a stand; the NHL. While games in other leagues were being cancelled and postponed left and right, three games remained on the schedule; the Boston Bruins versus the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders versus the Philadelphia Flyers, and the Colorado Avalanche versus the Dallas Stars.
“Yeah, I don’t know if there’s discussion amongst the players to be perfectly honest with you,” said Bruce Cassidy on whether or not his players talked about not playing their game. “We as an NHL have voiced our opinion, we support the NBA and their players and their decision tonight. We’ll continue to fight for social justice and anti-racism, and I think the Bruins have been quite clear on their position on that and the players for that matter. As for playing the game I think then it goes to a higher authority than me so probably better question to the players if they felt that was something they discussed.”
Instead of choosing not to hold games Wednesday, the NHL put up an “End Racism” sign on the jumbo-tron prior to the Boston Bruins versus Tampa Bay Lightning game. But, that was it.
“I think I’m just going to keep that at, obviously we’re – we stand against any type of racism,” said Bruins alternate Captain Patrice Bergeron. “My stance and our stance doesn’t change. Again, any form of injustice and I’ve made a statement earlier, a few months ago, Zee did as well, I stand behind that statement. I want to be a part of it, part of a solution. Obviously, there needs to be change. That’s where I’m at. Obviously, it’s about human rights, and that’s it, that’s all I have to say for that.”
Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara also voiced his support for players across all leagues taking action on the issues.
“Definitely, we support NBA players and all the leagues that showed their support,” said Chara. “Obviously, it was so close to our game that we were just getting ready. But pretty much saying what Patrice said, we support the fight against racism and injustice. There are different ways to express that fight and obviously NBA players expressed their opinions by boycotting the games today. We support it.”
On if there was any discussion at all about not playing their game against the Lightning, Chara said that the events were too close to the game so there was not much talk about it.
“Like I said it was so close to our game, we obviously took – after our pregame meal we took naps and then we were on the bus,” said Chara. “I don’t think any of us were watching the TV until we got to the rink and then at that point it was too close to the game to start any discussions or making, trying to change the, move the games to different dates. We had the afternoon game and we were just basically following the schedule that the NHL provided to us.”
Game 3 was set to begin at 8 PM EST. The Milwaukee Bucks boycotted their game just minutes before their scheduled tip-off against the Orlando Magic by refusing to leave their locker room.
Bergeron also voiced his support for Matt Dumba, who made a comment about the NHL’s decision to hold games Wednesday, saying that “NHL is always last to the party on these topics.”
“Yes, I think – and I’ve said that before. It starts with everyone,” said Bergeron. “I’m part of that. Zee is part of that. We all need to find ways to be, like I said, part of the solution. My statement doesn’t change, my stance doesn’t change. I want to be a part of it. And yeah, I stand against any type of racism and injustice. And yeah, I want to be a part of that.”
On whether or not he would support his team on whatever decision they decide to make going forward, Bruce Cassidy said he would be fully behind them.
“I would’ve supported our group whatever they decided, 100% behind them,” said Cassidy.