Nazem Kadri, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves, Jason Dickinson, and Bo Horvat speak out against racism
(Screenshot: Sportsnet)

There will be no 2020 Stanley Cup Playoff games played on Thursday or Friday.

The NHL announced they are standing by the players decision to boycott games in wake of the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday. The Stanley Cup Playoffs will resume on Saturday.

The NBA and MLB both postponed games on Wednesday after players on the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic staged a walk-out before the start of Game 5 in their playoff series. After the walk-out, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder also decided not to play, in addition to the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers.

Lakers superstar LeBron James was among the most vocal in the movement.

The NBA boycotts came after the first NHL playoff game of the day between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers had already gotten underway in Toronto. Many hockey fans questioned whether the NHL would follow suit and postpone two evening games, one between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning and the other between the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.

Instead of postponing or cancelling the games, the NHL said they would go forward with the scheduled games and would hold a “moment of reflection” for Jacob Blake prior to the start of both the evening games.

The “moment of reflection” ended up becoming the laughing stock of the hockey world on social media Wednesday evening. The clearly half-hearted tribute lasted for just over 30 seconds and didn’t amount to much of anything. Whether the NHL listened to the feedback or not, there was no moment of reflection for the second game of the night.

While the games still went on as scheduled Wednesday evening, it’s important to note that the NHL went dark on social media after the early game between the Flyers and Islanders. There wasn’t a single post about the moment of reflection or any highlights/posts related to the Lightning/ Bruins and Stars/Avalanche games. That’s almost unprecedented for games of that much importance in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It was the NBA players that forced the league to postpone the games, so it would have been up to the NHL players to take action before their games started. According to reports, the players only found out about what the NBA had done as they were arriving to the rink and getting dressed Wednesday evening.

While nothing was done Wednesday, the real action came on Thursday. It started in the morning when members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and New Jersey Devils forward Wayne Simmonds all tweeted that they are formally requesting the NHL to suspended all the playoff games today.

It was then reported that more than 100 NHL players in the bubble had a call with Kane and Dumba in the afternoon to discuss boycotting the games. It wasn’t long before reports surfaced that the players had accomplished their mission.

Eastern and Western Conference teams and players both held separate press conferences on Thursday afternoon to discuss the issues. The Western Conference press conference, led by Vegas Golden Knights’ heavyweight forward Ryan Reaves, ended up packing a major punch.

Reaves, who previously took a knee during the National Anthems at the start of the playoffs, spoke from the heart about the impact this decision will have on the game moving forward.

“I go to war with these guys and hate their guts on the ice but couldn’t be more proud of these guys. The statement they’ve made today is something that’s going to last. These two days aren’t going to fix anything, but the conversations and the statement that has been made are very powerful especially coming from this league”, Reaves said.

Reaves also explained how this boycott came to be. He told reporters he was struggling with the idea of what to do when he went to bed on Wednesday but woke up to a text from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and then Vancouver players. He explained how the most powerful thing that happened was that the conversation started with white players from others teams wanting to talk.

Colorado Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri and Pierre Edouard Bellemare, Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson and Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat also spoke at the press conference.

A memorable quote from the press conference came from Kadri.

“Moving forward, it’s going to have to be the whole league. Collectively. Not just one or two guys”, said the ex-Maple Leafs forward.

You can view the full Western Conference press conference below:

New York Islanders captain Anders Lee, Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk spoke at the Eastern Conference press conference. You can view the press conference in its entirety below.

As Ryan Reaves stated, these two days without hockey aren’t going to fix anything, but getting the conversation started is a powerful first step.