It was important to Ryan Reaves that the Golden Knights presented a unified front in their demonstration for racial equality Thursday.
Reaves took the lead in planning the gesture, which involved the team locking arms during the national anthem before its exhibition game against the Arizona Coyotes. He said he wanted to do something that was comfortable for every player.
The team posted a photo on Twitter of Reaves standing next to teammates William Carrier and Alex Tuch with the caption “We are united in the fight for racial equality.”
We are united in the fight for racial equality. pic.twitter.com/Qb18KBfZ1i
— y-Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) July 31, 2020
Other teams had similar demonstrations during their exhibitions. A few teams alternated players across both blue lines, rather than having one team stand on each. The Winnipeg Jets and the Vancouver Canucks stood around the center faceoff circle.
The Knights decided to stand together and had the Coyotes stand just behind them.
“We wanted to lock arms as a team,” Reaves said. “I thought bringing Arizona kind of closer to us shows that solidarity.”
The Coyotes became involved when Arizona coach Rick Tocchet called coach Pete DeBoer asking if they could do something together.
Reaves said taking a knee during the anthem was “discussed,” but ultimately the Knights went in a different direction.
“For a lot of guys, kneeling isn’t the way they would want to show support,” Reaves said. “I know that if I said I wanted everybody to kneel (that) somebody, at least one guy, was going to feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want that. This was the best way to be able to include everybody in it.”
The NHL has only had one player kneel for the anthem, and it happened Saturday. Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, one of the founding members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, did so after making a heartfelt, nationally televised speech on NBC before a Chicago Blackhawks-Edmonton Oilers game.
The NHL tweeted his speech with the caption: “When an issue is bigger than the game, we must speak out. #WeSkateFor Black Lives.”
— NHL (@NHL) August 1, 2020
“I know first-hand, as a minority playing the great game of hockey, the unexplainable and difficult challenges that come with it,” Dumba said. “Black lives matter. Breonna Taylor’s life matters. Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater, and it starts with all of us.”
The Knights held a team barbecue during their day off Friday. The club played some games outside, including cornhole, and forward Nick Cousins said one rookie stood out for the wrong reasons.
“My partner was Nic Hague and he was brutal, so we got to work on that,” Cousins said.
The Knights retreated to their lounge at the JW Marriott afterward, and some players finished the night playing cards.
“Just one last time to have a couple drinks and let loose before we really get into the nitty gritty here,” Reaves said.
— Coach Pete DeBoer said left wing Max Pacioretty, who is nursing an undisclosed minor injury, still has yet to join the Knights in Edmonton, Alberta.
— Dallas Stars leading scorer Tyler Seguin, who did not play in his team’s exhibition game, is expected to appear in Monday’s round-robin game against the Knights, coach Rick Bowness said.