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NHL postpones playoffs after criticism over response to Kenosha shooting

The NHL was the only major U.S. league to not postpone games Wednesday after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. It will take Thursday and Friday off.

The NHL postponed two days of playoff games Thursday after withering criticism from Black players who said the league was slow to acknowledge the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

The joint decision to put off Thursday and Friday's games was reached by the league and the NHL Players’ Association. It was made after members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance asked the NHL to postpone the playing of games, by saying: “We strongly feel this sends a clear message that human rights take priority over sports.” The alliance is made up of nine current and former minority players.

Nearly a full day after the NBA, WNBA, MLB and MLS saw games postponed over Blake's shooting last weekend, the NHL and its union made their announcement.

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“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 joint statement said. “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.”

The announcement came shortly before the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Islanders were to play Game 3 of their series in Toronto. The other postponed game Thursday had the Vegas Golden Knights facing the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 in Edmonton, Alberta.

The other postponed games were Game 4s on Friday: Boston against Tampa and Dallas against Colorado.

The NHL announced Friday morning that it plans to reschedule games beginning with a triple-header starting at 12 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug, 29 with Game 4 between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. That game will be followed by Game 3 between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers at 7 p.m. ET and later Game 3 between the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights at 9:45 p.m. ET.

Dallas Stars will return to the ice against Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. ET.

The NHL was criticized for being slow to respond in allowing the playoffs to proceed Wednesday night, when numerous leagues, starting with the NBA, postponed playing their games.

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.

Credit: AP
An "End Racism" message is displayed before Game 3 of an NHL hockey second-round playoff series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2020, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)