PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — There will be no Game 3 between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders on Thursday night. NHL players have opted not to play in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There will be no games on Friday, either.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 27, 2020
This comes after members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance asked the league to suspend the games Thursday. San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane announced the request on his Twitter account.
— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) August 27, 2020
“We strongly feel this sends a clear message that human rights take priority over sports,” Kane wrote on behalf of the alliance, which is made up of current and former players.
— Wayne Simmonds (@Simmonds17) August 27, 2020
Two Game 3s were set to be played Thursday, with the Flyers facing the Islanders in Toronto and the Vegas Golden Knights playing the Vancouver Canucks in Edmonton, Alberta.
Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back seven times Sunday by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The incident sparked protests, including some that spread to sports earlier this week. The NHL faced criticism from Kane, who is Black, and others in allowing its playoff games to continue after several other pro sports leagues, starting with the NBA, postponed games or had players sit out on Wednesday night.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Philadelphia on Wednesday, demanding justice for Blake.
“The assailant of Mr. Blake needs to be arrested. I’m here because there’s been no justice for so many victims of police brutality,” West Philadelphia resident Alexander Mowery said.
Islanders coach Barry Trotz said Thursday afternoon he was preparing to play while noting his players had numerous discussions on how to raise their voices against racial injustice.
“They understand the importance of the playoffs, but they also understand where the world is right now and what happened yesterday,” Trotz said. “As you digest it, I think what happened last night is a great statement for the athletes.”
Trotz, however, believed the best course forward was to continue playing, because the games provide players a platform.
“By you talking to me about it, to the players about it, it’s giving them a platform, it’s giving them air-time,” Trotz said. “You want to keep the issue in the forefront.”
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said he was focused solely on hockey.
“I really have no idea what’s going on in the outside world. We’re in this bubble right now,” Vigneault said. “I’m invested 24-7 on our team. … I guess I’m a hockey nerd, and that’s what I’m doing right now.”
Vigneault said he is aware of the NHL’s support for the Black Lives Matter movement and sees the signage inside the arena.
“We’re all for equality and social justice,” he said.
“But right now, I think what we’re trying to do is play a game. And I think players and management and coaches are really focused on that,” Vigneault added. “This is the most important time of the year for us. It’s playoff hockey.”
The NHL said the four postponed games will resume beginning on Saturday.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)