NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2020
The NHL postpones Thursday and Friday games to protest racial injustice, plus the latest on Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Tkachuk in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The National Hockey League yesterday postponed its Thursday and Friday playoff games after the players on the eight remaining postseason clubs decided not to play to protest systemic racism and police brutality.
The decision was announced in a joint statement yesterday by the league and the NHL Players’ Association. Players from each of the four Eastern Conference and Western Conference teams held joint news conferences in Toronto and Edmonton expressing their support of players in other leagues boycotting games in protest.
“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 NHL and NHLPA said. “We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment. We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.
“In this moment, the NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond.”
Tom Gulitti reports Vegas Golden Knights winger Ryan Reaves played an integral role in discussions among the players in both cities. He also praised the white players for their support.
“I think if you look around this room, there’s a lot of white athletes in here, and I think that’s the statement that’s being made right now,” Reaves said. “It’s great that the NBA did this and the MLB and the WNBA. They have a lot of Black players in those leagues. But for all these athletes in here just to take a stand and say, ‘You know what? We see the problem too and we stand behind you,’ I’d go to war with these guys. I hate their guts on the ice, but I couldn’t be more proud of these guys. This statement that they’ve made today is something that’s going to last.”
Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri expressed his hope that the next two days would allow the players to further educate themselves for the betterment of society.
Dallas Stars forward Jason Dickinson believes it’s time for the league to do more.
“We can keep using our words, keep trying to get the message, but it comes down to action,” Dickinson said.
Gulutti reports the players said they hope this shows they are united against racism and to bring about further conversations on the subject with their fans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL faced considerable criticism from the media and from fans on social media for not postponing their games on Wednesday at the same time as the NBA, MLB, WNBA and other leagues. The Hockey Diversity Alliance, which includes players of color such as Reaves, Kadri, guided the decision process that led to yesterday’s announcement by the league and the PA.
These postponements weren’t prompted by the leagues or their team owners. It was a result of their players’ boycotting the games or threatening to do so. That’s why the NHL received so much criticism.
It remains to be seen if these actions will lead to these leagues living up to their stated intent to become a more positive influence for societal change going forward. If so, will the leagues’ take the initiative, or will they once again be forced into doing so by their players?
ESPN.COM: Greg Wyshynski examined the factors that led to Marc-Andre Fleury losing his starter’s role with the Vegas Golden Knights, prompting his agent to post an image of his client with a photoshopped blade through his back with the name of head coach Peter DeBoer on the blade. Fleury played just one game in the round-robin and one in the first round of the playoffs.
The Golden Knights addition of Robin Lehner at the trade deadline was portrayed as shoring up their backup goaltending if anything happened to Fleury. However, DeBoer began saying he had two starters heading into the playoffs. While the Golden Knights’ coach spoke of goalie rotation during the playoffs, that hasn’t happened yet. Wyshynski also noted the club’s director of goaltending Dave Prior was relieved of his duties following the trade deadline.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wyshynski believes the Golden Knights’ crease should’ve belonged to Fleury to start the playoffs. DeBoer feels otherwise and it appears he has management’s support.
Fleury struggled at times during the season which I believe led to the acquisition of Lehner., who played well down the stretch and garnered enough trust from DeBoer to earn the bulk of the starts thus far. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation unfolds over the rest of the playoffs and into the off-season.
CALGARY SUN: Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk is defending his teammates, especially Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, from criticism by fans and pundits blaming them for the club’s early playoff exit.
“I just couldn’t believe some of the criticism some guys on my team were getting for this and getting the blame for this. Especially the criticism towards Johnny and Monny, it makes me sick. It really upsets me and pisses me off.
Tkachuk acknowledged he and the rest of the Flames’ best players didn’t do enough to get past the first round but shouldered the blame for the lack of production. “Everyone was upset at them (Gaudreau and Monahan) for offensive production. Well, they produced more offense than me. So put the blame on me.” He felt he didn’t do enough to put the club over the top when he was in the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Meet the future captain of the Calgary Flames.