The Bruins expressed support for the NBA players who elected not to play Wednesday night in protest against police shooting Jacob Blake in Wisconsin Sunday and reiterated their support for any cause that helps end racism.
Coach Bruce Cassidy, captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron each made statements after the Bruins, 7-1 loss in the Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
While NBA, WNBA, and several Major League Baseball and MLS games were called off for the night, Zdeno Chara said the Bruins became aware of the Milwaukee Bucks’ decision too late to act on it. He said that by the time the NBA players were publicly revealing their decisions not to play, the Bruins were into their pregame routine and not fully aware of what was occurring before their 8 p.m. game.
A team meeting to discuss a move of that magnitude wasn’t realistic that close to game time.
“Definitely, we support NBA players and all the leagues that showed their support. Obviously, it was so close to our game that we were just getting ready. We support the fight against racism and injustice. There are different ways to express that fight and obviously NBA players expressed their opinions by boycotting the games today. We support it,” Chara said. “I don’t think any of us were watching the TV until we got to the rink and then at that point it was too close to the game to start any discussions or making, trying to change the, move the games to different dates. We had the afternoon game and we were just basically following the schedule that the NHL provided to us.”
Lightning coach Jon Cooper said his team was in a similar situation.
“Obviously now, I think the world has changed in just the short time that we were at the rink when I got here at 4:30,” he said. “I think what’s happening now at 11:15 is much different than what it was happening at 4:30. So I don’t know all the details of what’s happened in other leagues. I’m aware now, but at the time there wasn’t things being discussed with our group. We were preparing to play the Boston Bruins and you know when you have such a short turnaround from playing last night to today, that was really all the talk.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy added his support for the NBA players
“We support the NBA and their players and their decision tonight. We’ll continue to fight for social justice and anti-racism, and I think the Bruins have been quite clear on their position on that and the players for that matter,” said Cassidy, who said he’d have supported his players if they made a decision to not play a game in protest. “I would’ve supported our group whatever they decided, 100% behind them.”
The NHL hurriedly created an announcement to be read by public address announcers in both arenas with the messages “End Racism” and “Black Lives Matter.”
“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.”
In an article on SportsNet’s website, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, one of the league’s most prominent Black players, expressed disappointment.
“I don’t know, the NHL we’re always late to the party, especially on these topics, so it’s sorta sad and disheartening for me and other members of the HDA (Hockey Diversity Alliance), and I’m sure other guys across the league,” said Dumba, who challenged the league’s white players to be more involved. “I hope guys find it in them to stand up. You can’t keep coming to the minority players every time there’s a situation like this. The white players in our league need to have answers for what they’re seeing in society right now, and where they stand.
“I know there’s a lot of them that are good people. There’s a lot of good people in hockey, but the silence is as bad as the violence,” Dumba continued. “You gotta step out and really hear people’s stories and have that empathy about why we’re doing what we’re doing now. … All the other white kids who grow up watching them, who might be their biggest fans, can look up and say, ‘Wow, if he’s seeing this and trying to stand up and listen, then why am I not as well? Why am I continuing to hold on to this ignorance or hate that I feel toward a subject that I maybe don’t know everything about?”
Informed of those quotes, Bergeron said he was eager to heed Dumba’s call.
“It starts with everyone. I’m part of that. Zee is part of that. We all need to find ways to be, like I said, part of the solution,” he said. “My statement doesn’t change, my stance doesn’t change. I want to be a part of it. And yeah, I stand against any type of racism and injustice. And yeah, I want to be a part of that.”
On SportsNet pregame broadcast, analyst and former NHL goalie Kelly Hrudey thought the league should have intervened and stopped games Wednesday.
“I don’t think we should be here. I think the NHL should postpone the games,” Hrudey said, “I really feel we should be more supportive of Black Lives Matter. …I know for myself, instead of watching hockey I’d prefer to be having this conversation with my family.”