Alain Vigneault doesn’t wear his glasses at press conferences because he’s typically never reading anything at press conferences.
On Saturday at noon ET in Toronto, the Flyers’ head coach put on his glasses and impassionately read a message that he had written down on multiple pages of paper.
Vigneault was addressing comments that he had made on Thursday at noon ET when he was asked about his thoughts on the postponements around sports in response to the Jacob Blake shooting.
His comments caused some waves of criticism for lacking empathy or understanding about what had been transpiring in the United States. On Thursday night, following the lead of the NBA players’ strike Wednesday, the NHL and NHLPA announced its agreement to not hold playoff games Thursday or Friday in order to highlight the current societal issues of racism and racial injustice.
The Flyers were in the middle of their 4-3 overtime Game 2 win Wednesday as news broke in the NBA. Game 3 of their best-of-seven second-round series against the Islanders was originally scheduled for Thursday night and is now set for Saturday at 7 p.m. ET.
Vigneault, a 59-year-old French Canadian who has brought a blend of lightheartedness and toughness to Philadelphia, has also coached in Montreal, Vancouver and New York. On Saturday, he felt compelled to clarify, explain himself and admit what he was guilty of in this situation involving issues bigger than sports.
Before beginning to read his message and flip the pages of his notepad, Vigneault said, “I took the liberty of writing a few things down. Everyone can hear me? Being French, my English isn’t as goodly as everyone’s, so bear with me a little bit here.”
Here was his message:
In life, I answer to my parents, I answer to my family, I answer to my friends and I answer to God. Everyone that I’ve just mentioned knows that what I’ve said since our postgame on Wednesday is the truth. My honesty, my integrity, my social commitment for some reason has been pushed to the forefront.
After our last game against the New York Islanders, I was asked about the situation in the NBA. We had played a 3 o’clock game, I didn’t know what was going on, so I didn’t comment. We got back that night at 6:15 at the hotel, I picked up some food 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 to 11:45 coaches meeting, at 11:45 I went to get COVID tested, at 12 o’clock, I was back here for a press conference.
I never bothered to ask or check with anyone what was going on in the world or the NBA. I am guilty of that. I was totally focused on our next game. Like I said at the 12 o’clock press conference, 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. Shortly, very shortly after that, I received a text from one of my players telling me that they were not playing that evening.
I am guilty of not checking up on what was going on in the world and in the NBA. But, I am a good person. I believe in equality, I believe in social justice, I want to be a part of the solution, I want to help society in any way I can.
To all of the people that have texted me and called me in the last 48 hours to show their support, I want to say thank you and continue to stay safe. To all of the people in the last 48 hours that have questioned my honesty, questioned my integrity, questioned my social commitment, I want to say you also stay safe.
We all have our part to do moving forward to help society fix its 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.
I want to thank everyone for being here. Everyone stay safe and that concludes today’s press conference. Thank you, thanks guys, stay safe.
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