The Avalanche and Minnesota Wild on Wednesday might follow suit to what was established Tuesday in Toronto, where the NHL produced its first hockey game in 139 days.
A show of unity kicked off the 24-team playoff exhibition opener between the Pittsburgh Penguins and rival Philadelphia Flyers at Scotiabank Arena. During the Canadian and American national anthems, players from both teams split up and stood on the two blue lines in protest of the world unrest regarding police brutality and racial inequality.
The Avs were returning to their hotel in Edmonton at the time, following practice at a local community rink.
“I saw a picture of it on Twitter,” Avs defenseman Ryan Graves said of the beginning of the Penguins-Flyers game. “I thought it was a nice show of unity. It’s nice to see guys sticking together. The hockey community is a good community. It’s tight-knit, and guys care about each other and people in general. I’m not sure what will happen here but it’s nice to see people showing their support for whatever cause they believe in.”
Teammate Matt Calvert saw a picture from Toronto on Instagram. “We were chatting about different things you can do to show support and create awareness, and that’s exactly what they were doing, especially when you see two teams like Philly and Pittsburgh — who have been big rivals for years — standing side-by-side,” Calvert said. “I think you’re lucky a line brawl didn’t break out there.”
The Avs face the rival Wild in both teams’ lone exhibition game at 12:30 p.m. MT Wednesday from Rogers Place in Edmonton, host of the Western Conference playoffs. Players are likely to show unity in some manner.
The Boston Bruins announced they will lock arms with each other during the anthems when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets in Thursday’s exhibition in Toronto, where the Eastern Conference playoffs will unfold.
Footnotes. Sans young defenseman Sam Girard, the Avalanche practiced for the second time during its third day in Edmonton. Coach Jared Bednar said Girard should return to skating Wednesday but has yet to announce his 22-player lineup against Minnesota. Bednar previously said his top-12 forwards and top-six D will be in the lineup, and goalies Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz are expected to split time in net….Wednesday’s exhibition will be covered locally by Altitude, and subject to blackout, and also shown on NHL Network and NHL.TV. The Avs and Wild both open play Sunday, but Minnesota will begin a five-game qualifying series against Vancouver while Colorado — which has a bye in the play-in round — plays St. Louis in a three-game round-robin tournament for seeding to begin the traditional 16-team, best-of-seven tournament. … The Avs are 2-2 against the Wild this season.
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