This was more than a moment of reflection.
After NHL players led a two-day postponement of games to keep the focus fixed on racism and social injustice, as well to continue the important conversations around how hockey can be more inclusive and welcoming to everyone, the league returned with a stronger message before its first game back from the reflective pause.
Here’s the complete opening before Game 4 between the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning, which began with the league’s pledge to be part of the movement to end racism, and also included messages from the Lightning’s Kevin Shattenkirk, and Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
And here’s are the transcripts from the messages delivered from Shattenkirk, Bergeron and Marchand:
Pre-game statements from Lightning defenceman Kevin Shattenkirk, Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron and Bruins winger Brad Marchand on social justice, racism and equality ahead of the NHL resuming play. pic.twitter.com/tCTTzk5g1V
— Joshua Clipperton (@JClipperton_CP) August 29, 2020
Actions will mean much more than words, and the league must obviously still prove that this won’t be a fleeting acknowledgment of the real issues it must help to confront, but it is clear that NHL players intend on keeping the message top of mind.
Both Shattenkirk and Bergeron wore Hockey Diversity Alliance t-shirts while conducting their pregame interviews, hopefully signifying a deeper union between the group working to eradicate racism from hockey and the remaining player pool.
And this is incredibly important, because if we learned anything about the dynamics between the NHL and its players, it’s that the athletes wield more power than what’s typically demonstrated.
The players demanded the NHL be attentive to the issues of racism and social injustice, and if they continue to take a stand, the league will be forced to continue responding in a positive fashion.