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Reaves believes statement made by players is 'going to last'

Andy Devlin / National Hockey League / Getty

Vegas Golden Knights forward Ryan Reaves, one of the driving forces behind the players' decision to postpone their playoff games in solidarity of racial injustice, believes the NHL community speaking up will have a lasting impact on the sport.

"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 at a press conference Thursday featuring representatives from all Western Conference playoff teams. "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 to take a stand and say, 'You know what? We see the problem too, and we stand behind you.' I go to war with these guys, and I hate their guts on the ice, but I couldn't be more proud of these guys.

"The statement they've made today is something that's going to last. These two days (aren't) going to fix anything, but the conversation and the statement that's been made is very powerful, especially coming from this league."

The NHL faced backlash for proceeding with its scheduled postseason contests on Wednesday after the NBA, WNBA, and MLB each called off games to combat racial injustice stemming from the recent police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

After player meetings throughout the day and the Hockey Diversity Alliance's postponement request, the NHL and NHLPA announced they are moving all of Thursday and Friday evening's scheduled matches to a later date.

Reaves said he was struggling Wednesday night about what to do for Thursday's Game 3 against the Vancouver Canucks, but received texts from members of their team - as well as Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk - encouraging him and helping spur the movement to sit out.

While Reaves was front and center during the press conference, several other players also delivered powerful messages.

"We want every NHLer to become the face of this movement," Shattenkirk said, per's Wes Crosby. "This isn't limited to one guy. This is everyone getting behind this."

"Moving forward, it's going to have to be the whole league. Collectively," said Nazem Kadri, according to The Athletic's Craig Custance.

"Some things are bigger than sports. There comes a time you have to start acting on your words," he added.

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