Flyers, Penguins stand united ‘against social injustice, racism and hate’

As the U.S. and Canadian anthems played, the Flyers and Penguins stood side by side as a statement against social injustice. Players and coaches lined up on the blue lines “united in solidarity.”

“The Penguins and Flyers, two of the fiercest rivals in sports, united in solidarity this afternoon, to stand up against social injustice, racism and hate. The two teams stood as one, merging players from both franchises together across each club’s respective blue lines prior to today’s game.”

More teams are expected announce their statements of support this week as the NHL’s Return to Play begins.

“A lot has happened since we played our last game. And we felt, both teams, that it was important to show unity given what’s gone on and just wanted to be part of the solution moving forward,” said Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

The NHL will honor front-line pandemic workers and those advocating for social justice causes during the Penguins-Canadiens and Blackhawks-Oilers opening games on August 1.

Players can also create their own helmet and uniform decals that will celebrate “community, charities, businesses, fans, front-line heroes, youth programs and social justice advocates.” The decals will have the “#ISkateFor” and “#WeSkateFor” hashtags.

Bruins, Blue Jackets announce their plans

The Bruins and Blue Jackets announced that their players will lock arms during the anthems before their Thursday exhibition game.

From the Bruins:

“Over the past several months we have been trying to educate ourselves and learn more about racial injustice in our country and around the world. As a team we have decided to lock arms during the playing of the United States and Canadian Anthems as a sign of solidarity with the Black community.

“This action is solely intended to be a positive sign of support for the Black community, and a way for us to use our platform to help end racism.”

From the Blue Jackets:

“On Thursday, our team is joining the Boston Bruins in locking arms as a positive sign of support for the Black community prior to the playing of the National Anthems.

“As a group and as individuals, we have and will continue to listen and learn about racial injustice. Through our platform, we hope to continue the important conversations about equality.

“Racism and prejudice have no place in hockey and no place in society.”

NHL players have been outspoken in their support of social justice since George Floyd’s death in May. Penguins forward Jake Guentzel, a Minnesota native, spoke last month at how he’s been educating himself. Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Dumba, Akim Aliu, and Joel Ward were among the current and former players who created the Hockey Diversity Alliance aiming to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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