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Off-Day Islanders Bits: Pause, listen, reflect, act

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While carefully insulated in a bubble, the NHL, at the urging, is pausing today to discuss the outside world.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs - Toronto - Press Conference
Foes Wednesday and tomorrow, but not right now.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

The NHL postponed games yesterday and today, at the urging of its players after much discussion Thursday.

The gist of their reasoning is in the joint NHLPA-NHL statement:

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.

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.

Lots of players have spoken publicly about their thinking, and Barry Trotz and the coaches association among others offered additional comment. And there were lots of thoughtful and heated debates in comments here yesterday. (That’s one reason I turned comments off for the next post. It doesn’t need to be a bulletin board for people just getting things off their chest without genuinely considering what those players were discussing.)

One of the more interesting perspectives is that of Ryan Reaves, the Vegas winger who woke up to a flood of support from fellow players, discusses these issues thoughtfully — and has been a supporter of people in various uniformed services, too, in case you think addressing racial inequity or undoing the embedded societal damage is a “can only be this or that” issue.

Players wanted to take a visible stand and also use these two days to discuss and engage one another on the matter. That they thought this was an important says something. Here’s more at the Athletic, quoting Kevin Shattenkirk talking about the importance of making sure the league is truly welcoming and inclusive.

If you want to discuss hockey today, great, we’re certainly here for that. If you think the protest or pause is all a waste, I’d say just have some empathy for the people who experience these issues, and those who sincerely want to hear more about those experiences — enough to take this kind of step. A couple of days without hockey isn’t harming anyone. Listening to the experience of others rarely hurts, too.

Islanders News

[UPDATED] This morning the NHL announced the revised schedule. Game 3 of the Islanders-Flyers series is now slated for 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday. (The teams were originally slated to be the first game on Saturday, a noon start.) They will still have a back-to-back, but now only one, with the rest of the series slated as follows:

Game 4 - Sunday, 8 p.m.
Game 5 - Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Game 6 - Thursday, TBD
Game 7 - Saturday, TBD

  • Here’s a little bit about how the discussion went with the Islanders yesterday, including their captain, Anders Lee. [Athletic]
  • Full video of Lee, with Shattenkirk, Zdeno Chara and James van Riemsdyk speaking here.
  • Back on the ice, how Mathew Barzal’s dynamism helps the Isles generate offense. [Score]
  • For the love of Beauvillier... [Post]
  • With the pause, the setting for Game 3 has changed from “bounce back from a tough OT loss yesterday” to a two-day gap and chance to rest. Still, another occasion for resilience. [Newsday]
  • And assuming it has to be Semyon Varlamov back in goal, right? [Newsday]
  • Hopefully that big Game 2 did not wake up Sean Couturier. [Inquirer]
  • No link for this, but a question: I’m assuming Ross Johnston will be okay for the next game after that head contact on the hit by Matt Niskanen? Though if there are lineup changes after a loss, he could be a candidate.
  • The new Coliseum lease deal is moving forward. [LI Herald] But the Coliseum has gloriously lost its really awkward naming rights partner. [Newsday]
  • The Isles ECHL affiliate in Worcester made a couple of signings. [Railers]

Here’s a lengthy thread with links to various community outreach initiatives from each NHL club.

Elsewhere

  • The stock of Bo Horvat, who single-handedly embarrassed the defending champion Blues in the quarterfinal round, continues to rise. [TSN]
  • Regardless of what his agent did, was Marc-Andre Fleury, deposed by deadline acquisition Robin Lehner, treated the wrong way? [ESPN]
  • Jonathan Marchesseault used some foul retorts to critics on social media, then apologized. [ESPN]