On Tuesday, the NHL decided to pair the return of hockey with a display of support of the Black Lives Matter movement. It was a good time to do it – the league has made a lot of noise around racial justice over the last few months, but the return of hockey represents the first time since the pandemic put sports on pause that the league has had the appropriate platform to turn words into actions. While the Bruins decided to let everyone know ahead of time that they would be locking arms with the Columbus Blue Jackets for last night’s exhibition game...
I liked the sentiment behind the Bruins and Blue Jackets locking arms in a circle during the pregame anthems to promote equality. But this image is just comical. They had to pick the 2 smallest guys on Columbus for either side of 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara? pic.twitter.com/s4i2l3Xjq2— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) July 30, 2020
...the other teams were content to wait until the first exhibition game to reveal the fact that they would be standing in intermixed lines for the anthems. Sometimes circles.
While the teams and the league made it clear on social media that the gesture was in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement...
Stronger Together. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/JU199kGChr— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 29, 2020
...the gesture was still ambiguous enough to leave a lot of room for interpretation.
Thank you @NHL#Standing pic.twitter.com/Q6KgQx7ED8— Eric Trump (@EricTrump) July 30, 2020
That it was four of the league’s few POC – Nazem Kadri, Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, Matt Dumba, and Jordan Greenway – who took the moment to make their own gesture and stand in solidarity with each other was both unsurprising and powerful.
Pierre-Édouard Bellemare, Matt Dumba, Nazem Kadri, and Jordan Greenway stand together during the anthem before today's exhibition game between the Wild and Avalanche. pic.twitter.com/QKh0zxc8Fn— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) July 29, 2020
It also emphasized how alone they are.
Nazem Kadri and other PoC would like to “see a little more acknowledgment” from the NHL - Mile High Hockey
The NHL is not doing enough with their "statements of solidarity".
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...as does the Leafs social media team.
The competitiveness doesn’t stop off the ice #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/CuNb9UTkKN— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) July 30, 2020