The NHL postponed two Stanley Cup playoff games that were scheduled on Thursday and two others scheduled for Friday, a decision made after league officials drew wide criticism for their initial mild reaction to percolating social justice issues that have shaken up the sports world.
"The NHL, we're always late to the party, especially on these topics," Wild defenseman Matt Dumba told Sportsnet 650 radio.
The NHL's postponements, announced Thursday, involved second-round games in the league's two playoff hubs. The Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders had been scheduled to face off at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto with their series tied at one game each, and the Vegas Golden Knights had been scheduled to face the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place in Edmonton in a series also tied at 1-1.
Friday's postponements encompass Game 4 of the Tampa Bay Lightning's series against the Boston Bruins, and Game 4 of the Colorado Avalanche's series against the Dallas Stars. Tampa Bay and Dallas each hold a 2-1 series lead.
"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 supports the Players' decision and will reschedule those four games beginning Saturday and adjust the remainder of the Second Round schedule accordingly," according to a statement issued jointly by the NHL and the NHL Players' Association.
"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. We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society."
The NHL's only response Wednesday was an announcement that was read before the Lightning-Bruins game in Toronto. It was followed by what the league called a "moment of reflection" that lasted for about 15 to 20 seconds. Public address announcer David Ross said, "Racism has been embedded in our society for far too long. Today and every day the NHL and the hockey community are committed in the mission to combat racial injustice and achieve a fair society for all. The NHL would like to take this moment to wish Jacob Blake and his family well and call out to our fans and communities to stand up for social justice and the effort to end racism."
NHL players, coaches and staff members are overwhelmingly white but the league in recent years has initiated or endorsed many programs intended to increase diversity and promote inclusion.