The NHL joined other athletes and sports leagues Thursday in postponing playoff matchups in the wake of the Jacob Blake shooting. After NBA players started to walk off the court on Wednesday, other athletes and teams slowly followed their lead. While the NHL continued their games on Wednesday, Thursday saw the league release a statement confirming their decision for Thursday and Friday.
"After much discussion, NHL Players believe that the best course of action would be to take a step back and not play tonight's and tomorrow's games as scheduled," the NHL announced in their statement. "Black and Brown communities continue to face real, painful experiences. The NHL and NHLPA recognize that much work remains to be done before we can play an appropriate role in a discussion centered on diversity, inclusion and social justice. We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment."
The statement ended with the league pledging to work as they move forward to "influence positive change in society." The league wasn't without critics, though. Matt Dumba and Evander Kane criticized the NHL for their response on Wednesday, leading to the league's decision on Thursday.
Our response to the NHL’s response to the radical injustice and violence. pic.twitter.com/c9vfcwOJ7t— Hockey Diversity Alliance (@TheOfficialHDA) August 27, 2020
The Hockey Diversity Alliance also issued a statement earlier in the day Thursday, commenting on Blake's shooting and the NHL's lack of response after Wednesday's walkouts started.
"The Hockey Diversity Alliance is deeply saddened by the Jacob Blake shooting — yet another example of police brutality against Black Americans that continues to go unabated and unaddressed in the communities where NHL teams play. Earlier today, the HDA formally requested that Commissioner [Gary] 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 statement reads. "We hope to be in position to announce an agreement in respect of the Pledge commitments before the end of the playoffs."
The league said that games are scheduled to restart on Saturday, though a cessation of the season has been discussed with other sports like the NBA.