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Crosby vows to lead Penguins in fight against social injustice, racism

Says high-profile NHL players 'important when it comes to being a part of change'

by Wes Crosby / Independent Correspondent

Sidney Crosby said he plans to play a role in increasing diversity in hockey.

As one of the more high-profile NHL players, the Pittsburgh Penguins center said he has a responsibility to bring awareness to social injustice and racism. Crosby, who won the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009, 2016 and 2017, also said he still has much to learn.

"Obviously, we're role models, first and foremost," Crosby said Friday. "I think we understand that. We understand what's going on in the world. We're important when it comes to being a part of change. I just think there's important conversations that you have to have.

"I know, personally, I've had some of those. But I still need to continue to do that. Just educate ourselves, whether it's where we play or in our communities, how we can make a difference."

Crosby did not have a shot on goal in 19:03 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday in an exhibition game at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the Eastern Conference hub city, playing after missing five of the final six scrimmage or practice sessions in Penguins training camp for undisclosed reasons. He is expected to be in the lineup for Game 1 of a best-of-5 series against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in Toronto on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, SN, TVAS).

But what the Pittsburgh captain did in the game Tuesday wasn't as important as what the Penguins and Flyers did before it, standing side-by-side on each blue line during the playing of the Canada and United States national anthems. In a joint statement, the teams said the gesture was meant to "stand up to social injustice, racism and hate."

The Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs did the same when they played in Toronto later Tuesday.

It carried into Wednesday before the Florida Panthers-Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild-Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes-Washington Capitals and New York Rangers-New York Islanders exhibition games. The Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks stood together around the center-ice face-off circle at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city.

On Thursday, the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins stood arm-in-arm around the center-ice circle, and the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars did the same on the blue lines. Before the final exhibition game, the Arizona Coyotes locked arms in the neutral zone, about 15 feet behind the arm-in-arm Vegas Golden Knights on the blue line.

Before the game against Philadelphia on Tuesday, Crosby stood next to Flyers center Sean Couturier. After the game, Crosby said each team was aware of how the world had changed since the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

"A lot has happened since we played our last game," Crosby said Tuesday. "We felt, both teams, it was important to show unity given what's gone on and just want to be part of the solution moving forward. So that was kind of the thought behind it."

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