NBA Sets Pace As NHL Trails Behind
It has been very apparent that the events that have transpired in Kenosha, Wisconsin, whether it be the shooting of Jacob Blake or the protest shootings that took place the following days, have made the game of basketball a backburner issue, and the Milwaukee Bucks agreed. The Bucks, without notice, boycotted their game with the Orlando Magic in of light the injustices towards the black community.
The Bucks stance sent a ripple effect around the sports world. A total of three NBA games were postponed Wednesday, the WNBA followed suit and postponed all of their games, and two MLB games were also postponed. However, the NHL’s lack of response stuck out like a sore thumb. Despite pleas from players like Evander Kane and Matt Dumba for more action, the NHL didn't postpone their games, instead, they opted for a moment of “reflection” before hand.
Since the restart, the NHL has done the bare minimum when as it pertains to shedding a light on social injustices that have been embedded in North American society. Yes, they have “We skate for Black Lives” printed all around the arena’s in both Toronto and Edmonton, but they haven’t done much else to show the NHL’s 30 black players that they have their back.
Sportsnet's Hockey Analyst Kelly Hrudey also weighed in on the NHL's decision to play:
The NBA has been the unquestioned leader when it comes to social issues. Whether it’s the players, coaches, or commissioner, the league is always prepared for battle, the polar opposite of the NHL. The NHL failed their fans, and the players failed their black colleagues. Where's Connor McDavid? Where's Sidney Crosby on this issue? Other sports stars have taken action but the NHL’s biggest names have been silent.
Imagine being Willie O' Ree. It wasn’t that long ago he was enshrined into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder and trailblazer of the game. Every year during black history month O' Ree goes to different arenas to celebrate the importance of his role in the game and the importance of the NHL opening its doors to everyone. He’s hockey’s Jackie Robinson, but it seems his efforts have fallen on deaf ears.
Everett Fitzhugh is another trailblazer in this sport as the first black NHL announcer for the Seattle Kraken. Imagine being Fitzhugh and seeing the lack of effort in the NHL, what must he be thinking, what does this say to him? How can you be excited when the league doesn’t seem to give a damn about the injustice of minorities. It puts players and employees of colour in a very tough spot.
The NBA deserves our praise and admiration. They have constantly been on the front lines in the fight for equality. What the Bucks did will go down in the history books, and my appreciation and fandom only continue to grow for the NBA. I love hockey and the NHL, I love the Leafs, hockey is my favourite sport, but the NHL has failed me as a fan. I just hope they don't lose me a fan too.