UPDATE: The NHL has announced that playoffs games scheduled for Thursday and Friday are being postponed.
Canadian NHLer Evander Kane is speaking out against the hockey league for not taking a stronger stand after NBA players withdrew from their games in a historic statement against anti-Black racism and police brutality.
The Hockey Diversity Alliance, which Kane co-leads, formally called on the NHL to cancel its playoffs games on Thursday.
“We strongly feel this sends a clear message that human rights take priority over sports,” the Vancouver-born San Jose Sharks left wingers said on Twitter.
All NBA games were cancelled Wednesday in wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The 29-year-old Black man was shot seven times by an officer during an arrest in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.
“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 in a tweet Wednesday night.
The MLB, WNBA and other leagues also cancelled some of their games Wednesday. The NHL went ahead, but included a “moment of reflection” — a gesture that ignited a significant backlash online.
The boycott was set off by Milwaukee Bucks players, who pulled out of their game and called for accountability from law enforcement.
“Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we’ve seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protesters. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball,” the team said in a statement.
“When we take the court and represent Milwaukee and Wisconsin, we are expected to play at a high level, give maximum effort and hold each other accountable. We hold ourselves to that standard, and in this moment, we are demanding the same from our lawmakers and law enforcement.”
Kane — one of a handful of Black NHLers — said the NBA players’ statement was a powerful one.
“I think it took a lot of guts from the players to be able to do that and I applaud them,” he told Sportsnet on Wednesday.
Kane called on the NHL, it’s players and the media to do better.
“It’s not just my responsibility as a minority player in the NHL to be talking about these issues. It’s not just Wayne Simmonds or Akim Aliu or Joel Ward or Matt Dumba’s stance or issues in this society, it’s everybody’s. Until everybody decides to take it upon themselves, and maybe step away from some of their privileges to educate themselves and really fight with us, you know, we’re going to be in the same situation we are today,” he said.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that NHL players are discussing options to protest racial injustice, according to a person with knowledge of those talks.
The person spoke to the agency on condition of anonymity early Thursday because those discussions were private.
NBA players have decided they want to continue with their post-season, though it’s unclear when games will resume, a source told AP.
— With files from the Associated Press