Alain Vigneault used his pregame media availability Saturday to clarify statements he had made Wednesday and Thursday regarding his lack of awareness of the social justice protests that had begun with NBA players boycotting playoff games Wednesday.
The Philadelphia Flyers coach said he did not have enough information to comment when asked about the protests after Philadelphia’s 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Second Round on Wednesday. He echoed that sentiment Thursday afternoon, saying, “I have really no idea what’s going on in the outside world. We’re in this bubble right now, I’m invested 24-7 in our team.”
Vigneault, who was criticized by some media members for his comments, said he wasn’t aware of the NBA protests and the possiblity of NHL games being postponed until later Thursday.
“We had played a 3 o’clock game (Wednesday), I didn’t know what was going on so I didn’t comment,” Vigneault said Saturday. “We got back that night at 6:15 to the hotel, I picked up some food, had a martini and went to my room to work. We were playing in less than 24 hours. I worked late into the night, got up very early the next morning, continued to work. I conducted my 10:30-11:45 coaches meeting. At 11:45 I went to get COVID tested, at 12 o’cock I was back here for a press conference. I never bothered to ask or check with anyone what was going on in world or in the NBA. I am guilty of that. I was totally focused on our next game.
“As I said at that 12 o’clock press conference (Thursday), I am for equality, I am for social justice. After that press conference I went to our pregame meal. I left there around 12:35, and as I walked out I saw players from the four teams that are in the bubble talking. That was my first indication that something was going on. Very shortly after that I received a text from one of my players telling me that they weren’t playing that evening. I am guilty of not checking up with what’s going on in the world and the NBA. But I am a good person.”
The NHL postponed four Stanley Cup Playoff games scheduled for Thursday and Friday after players from the eight remaining teams decided not to play as a form of protest against systemic racism and police brutality. The playoffs resume Saturday, including Game 3 of the Flyers-Islanders series at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). The series is tied 1-1.
“I believe in equality,” Vigneault said. “I believe in social justice. I want to be part of the solution. … We all have our part to do moving forward to help society fix these issues. Maybe we can all start by being good to one another. Society is like a big team; everyone has a role to play. If we work together and do our roles, I am convinced that we can fix society’s issues.”