Carter Hart stood next to Sidney Crosby during the national anthems before Tuesday’s game in Toronto.
As the “Star-Spangled Banner” gave way to “O Canada,” Travis Sanheim was shoulder-to-shoulder with Evgeni Malkin. Claude Giroux stood next to Jack Johnson.
Before the NHL resumed play after a historic stoppage lasting more than four months, the players for these normally bitter rivals wanted to make a statement.
“The Flyers and Penguins stand in solidarity that black lives matter,” the Flyers tweeted. The Penguins sent out a similar tweet.
“We talked about it before the game doing something,” said Sean Couturier, a Flyers alternate captain who stood between Penguins Jared McCann and John Marino. “It was for equality, justice, racism, everything, respect. We’re a pretty big rival, but [we wanted to show] the way that we have respect for each other, and that it should be the same in life, in general.”
It was the first NHL game since the COVID-19 shutdown in March and the social unrest following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police in May.
Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby, one of the faces of the league and of Canada, said afterward, “A lot has happened since we played our last game. We felt both teams it was important to show unity. ... We just wanted to be part of the solution moving forward.”
Even the coaches were in on it as the Flyers’ Alain Vigneault stood next to counterpart Mike Sullivan.
“All we were trying to do tonight — players and coaches — was show our support,” Vigneault said. “It was one small way I thought everybody could do it and show it, and that’s what we did.”