Before his nearly 20-minute video chat with selected media outlets, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel laid bare his feelings on the events of the last few weeks, especially the death of a 46-year-old African American, George Floyd who was killed while in the custody of the Minneapolis police. The police officer who held his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes has been charged with murder, but Floyd’s death sparked demonstrations across the country which have occurred for the last 10 days.
Guentzel is a Minnesota native, too.
“…These last couple of weeks, it’s been pretty tough. Watching the death of George Floyd was disturbing,” Guentzel said. “For me personally, it was disheartening knowing it was close to home for me. I want to say my heartaches with that and for everyone involved. I’m ashamed that racism still exists to this day.”
“My eyes have definitely been opened and I’m definitely committed to educating myself and making a difference up there.”
On Tuesday, Guentzel joined his teammates for the first time since Dec. 30, when shoulder surgery nearly ended his season. The NHL season delay allowed Guentzel to get healthy. He told the small group of media members that he is following his rehab process and being patient.
He is expected to play when the NHL moves to Phase 3 in July and Phase 4 in later July or August. The benefit of the delay wasn’t lost on Guentzel.
“I can take the positive out of this. I’m not really sure what would have happened had the season played out,” said Guentzel. “I could take these two or three months and use them to my advantage. If I can get rehabbed and feeling good, I can get back to playing.”
Based on the video released by the Penguins, Jake Guentzel was part of the small group of six with Sidney Crosby.