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In Movement Led by Hockey Diversity Alliance, NHL Postpones Playoff Games

In response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin, the National Hockey League has postponed games on Thursday and Friday. The decision was led by the players, particularly the Hockey Diversity Alliance. A request was submitted to the league and agreed to today. The New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers had Game 3 scheduled for 7 pm Thursday night.

The alliance released a statement Thursday morning informing the public of the request saying, “Earlier today, the HDA formally requested that Commissioner Bettman and the NHL suspend all playoff games today to allow players and fans to reflect on what happened and to send a message that human rights must take priority over sport.”

The alliance was formed this past June and is co-led by former NHL player Akim Aliu and San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane.

The NHL and NHL Players’ Association released a joint statement Thursday evening. The league said it “supports the players’ decision and will reschedule those four games beginning Saturday and will adjust the remainder of the second round schedule accordingly.” The statement continued with the recognition 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 Islanders released a statement of support for the movement and said on Twitter, “we will continue to work together as we promote equality and to end racial and social injustice.” The Flyers released a similar statement, closing with, “we are committed to using our platform to create dialogue and meaningful action in the pursuit of social change and racial equality.”

Both bubbles held press conferences Thursday and the one in Toronto included Islanders captain Anders Lee and Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk. “We came to understand and to really have that opportunity to support our fellow black players in this league and if they weren’t comfortable playing, we were right behind them,” Lee said. “I think that inclusion, that support that we have for them is extremely important.”

Van Riemsdyk was part of a call with current Hockey Diversity Alliance member Chris Stewart who played 16 games with the Flyers this season but is not with the team in the bubble. “I only got a chance to play with [Stewart] for this season but I’ve gotten to know him really well and really respect him as a teammate and as a friend and him being a part of the Hockey Diversity Alliance,” he said. “Just wanted to reach out to him as someone who’s been involved in some of these other conversations that are being had and obviously for us, we’re trying to do the right thing and looking for things we can do to show support.”

Game 4 between those teams was set for noon on Saturday but there is currently no set time for the postponed Game 3.

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