Joel Ward decides not to kneel during national anthem

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Earlier this week, San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward said that he would consider kneeling/protesting in some way during the national anthem, possibly becoming the first black NHL player to do so in the process.

Upon further reflection, Ward has decided not to do that.

The 36-year-old released an expansive statement on the matter that’s well worth a read:

Here is a key excerpt from his larger statement:

  … How can we be a part of the solution and not part of the problem – or be another distraction from what the real issues are?

Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues, I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done.

But now that I have the world’s attention, let’s meet at the kitchen table, the locker room or in the stands and continue the healing process.”

Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews shared a similar opinion about “the real issues” being lost amid sometimes-heated debates, as the Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports.

“I’m sure a lot of players are doing some great work off the field at making that situation better, and educating young kids,” Toews said. “But at the end of the day as players, we all respect the flag, and respect the country, whether it’s Canada or the United States. We respect those who fought of reverting we have here. We need to get back to the real conversation and start trying to make a difference.”

Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was rumored to be willing to join Ward if he decided to kneel. He supported Ward’s statement on Thursday, also signaling that attention should return to the issues that prompted Colin Kaepernick to kneel.

For those wondering if the NHL would end the tradition of anthem performances before games, the owners met and agreed to maintain the practice.

As PHT covered earlier on Thursday, the NHLPA came out in support of players making “peaceful protests.”

Such protests might happen, yet it doesn’t sound like Ward will be kneeling to make such a demonstration. We’ll see if anyone decides to do so as the 2017-18 regular season begins next Wednesday.

More on this issue

Penguins make controversial decision to accept White House invitation.

Donald Trump tweets about their visit.

Auston Matthews and others on the subject.

Ho-Sang, Okposo also weigh in.