NHL: Washington Capitals at San Jose Sharks

The NHLPA has announced that the NHL's players have decided they will not play Thursday or Friday's games as scheduled and will reschedule those four games beginning Saturday. The NHLPA said, "After much discussion, NHL Players believe that the best course of action would be to take a step back and not play tonight's and tomorrow's games as scheduled." 

The NHL says they fully support the players' decision.

The announcement read:

"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."

The league also said it aims to create a more accepting world for their fans and players.

"We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society The NHLPA and NHL are committed to working to foster more inclusive and welcoming environments within our arenas, offices and beyond," the statement continued.

The decision comes after playing scheduled Stanley Cup Playoff games on Wednesday night while every other major sports league in the United States had some or all of their games postponed as a protest in the wake of the recent police brutality incidents.

The games impacted are Game 3 between the Flyers and Islanders, Game 3 between the Golden Knights and Canucks, Game 4 between the Lightning and Bruins and Game 4 between the Avalanche and Stars.

Earlier on Thursday, the Hockey Diversity Alliance formally requested that the league suspended all playoff games. San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane tweeted that the group feels it would send "a clear message that human rights take priority over sports."

According to ESPN's Emily Kaplan, the league didn't expect to cancel games unless the players took a strong stance, which they did through a conversation with the Hockey Diversity Alliance. The executive committee of the HDA is made up of Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, Buffalo Sabres forward Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers forward Chris Stewart, retired forward Joel Ward, and Kane. The group's goal is " to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey."

Following the NHL's decision to play Wednesday's game, Dumba spoke out and said that he was disappointed in the league's efforts.

"The NHL is always late to the party, especially on these topics, so it's sorta sad and disheartening for me and other members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and I'm sure other guys across the league,"  Dumba said in interview with Vancouver's Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday.

"But if no one stands up and does anything, it's the same thing — it's just that silence that you're just outside looking in on actually being leaders and invoking real change when you have such an opportunity to do so."

The NHL chose to play their scheduled games on Wednesday hours after NBA players chose to sit out their games. In total, the NBA, MLS, MLB and WNBA all canceled some or all games as a result of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.