Nashville Predators star P.K. Subban told a crowd of fans at a recent fundraiser that he would “never” kneel in protest during the national anthem, reports Yahoo! Sports’ Greg Wyshynski. The Toronto native’s comments were confirmed by the team, which had already said it would not participate in any activism before games.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette told reporters on Tuesday that the team met together recently and decided to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When asked what he’d do about a player approaching him to protest, he declined to answer. Only four players on Nashville’s roster are American.
So Subban, arguably the most prominent black player in the NHL, would need to break ranks from his team in order to make his own statement, something he indicated he’s not willing to do. Only two NHL players, San Jose’s Joel Ward and Tampa Bay’s J.T. Brown, have said publicly they’d consider joining other athletes to kneel in protest of racial injustice and police brutality.
Activism has started pushing its way into the sports world since the 49ers’ Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid began kneeling for the anthem last year. President Donald Trump criticized the protests last week, telling NFL owners to fire any players who kneeled for the national anthem. The league responded with a steady flow of positive statements and activism throughout Week 3.
With many players coming from Canada and Europe, the NHL has not become as embroiled in U.S. politics as the NFL or NBA. But the Penguins learned that the politics and sports are increasingly intertwined when their decision to accept an invitation to the White House led to a flurry of discussion.
While the NHL season may include protests of inequality and injustice during the anthem, don't expect any from Subban.
"I never look at myself as a black player," Subban told ESPN earlier this year. "I think of myself as a hockey player who wants to be the best hockey player in the league. I know I'm black. Everyone knows I'm black. But I don't want to be defined as a black hockey player."