Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown has “no ill will towards John Tortorella,” but he does want to explain the tweet he published on Tuesday that was critical of Tortorella’s promise to bench any of his players that “sit on the bench for the national anthem.”
“I responded to a story on Twitter with my opinion and that was how I saw it,” Brown said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “He sees the situation through his reality and I see it through mine, as a black athlete in the NHL. I know I’m not on the United States World Cup roster, but I have had a chance to represent my country on other occasions. My Tweet was a hypothetical. What if I took a stance to promote awareness for one of the many injustices still occurring in our country and was punished despite there being no rule or law against it? My Tweet was a response to that question.
“I could have been quiet and just kept my opinion to myself, but I don’t want young minorities who love the game of hockey to think that what’s going on in America today is going unnoticed by the hockey community. I love America and thank the military for protecting our freedoms, as well as law enforcement for protecting and serving our communities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that there is still racism today. I am glad my Tweet provoked a discussion, because we need to start having a conversation about racism if we want to work towards a better America.
“While I don’t plan on sitting during the national anthem, I will look for more opportunities to positively impact my community and bring awareness to racial issues.”
Tortorella, the head coach of Team USA at the upcoming World Cup, expanded on his stance yesterday.
“We are in a great country because we can express ourselves,” he said, per the Toronto Sun. “I’m not against expressing ourselves. That’s what is great about our country. We can do that.
“But when there are men and women who give their lives for the flag, for their anthem, continue to put themselves on the line, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries with these people, who give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there is no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you are trying to make a point.”