San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward announced on Thursday that he will not kneel for the national anthem when the NHL season begins next week.
Ward made his decision in a lengthy post on Twitter Thursday, two days after telling the San Jose Mercury News that he wouldn’t rule out the protest.
The 36-year-old Ward and close friend Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers reportedly were contemplating taking a knee prior to the teams’ season-opening game in San Jose on Oct. 4. Ward and Simmonds are both from Ontario and are two of approximately 30 black players on NHL rosters.
“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,” Ward wrote.
Numerous NFL players opted to take a knee Sunday on the heels of President Donald Trump‘s comments that players who kneel for the anthem should be fired.
At every NFL game this past weekend, players either locked arms — some including coaches and owners — kneeled down or went into the locker room during the anthem.
“I hold an immense amount of respect for the many players — across the sporting world — that have chosen to peacefully bring attention to a couple of big issues in today’s society, which are inequality and the use of excessive force against people of color in the United States of America. Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis,” Ward said in the statement.
“I also feel that the original message that was trying to be communicated has been lost. The focus has shifted to the act of the kneeling itself or to a protest of the flag or the military. What are we really talking about here?”