Nathan MacKinnon has spoken with teammates Nazem Kadri and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, each a person of color, about reaching out to activists in Denver to determine how the Colorado Avalanche can do something actionable to fight systemic racism and police brutality.
The Avalanche center, a finalist for the Hart Trophy as NHL most valuable player this season, also said Saturday that he’s been in touch with Black friends of his back home in Nova Scotia who are involved in their communities to figure out ways he can do something tangible to be a proponent of the cause.
“Just trying to figure out things to help in a positive way,” MacKinnon said. “I’m a white person, I don’t know what people are going through and I’m not going to act like it. That’s why you have to ask questions and learn and figure out how you can help (make an) impact.”
Players from the eight remaining teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs decided not to play Thursday and Friday as a form of protest in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday.
The players joined with the athletes from the NBA, WNBA, MLB, Major League Soccer and the NFL, which all postponed games or canceled practices.
MacKinnon said he regretted even playing Game 3 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday, when the NBA, WNBA, MLS and select MLB teams began their postponement protests. The Avalanche defeated the Stars 6-4 in the final game of the day.
“I guess we were a day late,” MacKinnon said. “It’s unfortunate, but we’re doing our best to make up for it. We postponed two days of NHL hockey. That’s a big deal, making a statement. If you ask any player, they’ll relay the same message. It was a little weird to see on social media all gameday of teams postponing, but there were already [NHL] games going on. We didn’t know what to do. Looking back, probably should have postponed that day, but we’re doing our best now.”
The Avalanche trail the Stars 2-1 in the best-of-7 series with Game 4 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the West hub city, on Sunday (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SN1, TVAS). The game was postponed Friday.
Colorado coach Jared Bednar echoed MacKinnon’s sentiment about the need to do something that goes beyond talking about the issues.
“Ultimately, we have to find a way to help and make a difference,” Bednar said. “The education is where it all starts, and we have some real intelligent guys in the room who have been through a lot, have strong perspectives on things. Some of the conversations we’ve had have been great. That’s all positive, that’s what you’re trying to create, not just with our hockey team but with families and communities. We have to make something actionable and do something to help. That has to be the next step. A lot of awareness now around our country, now it’s time for some change. I think our guys want to figure out exactly what we can do to help. That’s where we’re at with it at this point.”