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After Mass Anthem Protests in the NFL, the NHL Responds in Its Own Way

On Sunday, more NFL players protested the national anthem than ever before, and now, the protests and bleeding into other sports.

LeBron James, Steph Curry, and Michael Jordan have responded to President Donald Trump’s attacks on those that choose to “disrespect the flag.” NASCAR also got involved as several owners threatened to fire anyone on their teams who protested the anthem.

But now, there’s another sport getting involved in the controversy: the National hockey League. However, many players are speaking out in a completely unexpected way.

Two-time U.S. Olympian and Boston Bruins right-winger David Backes responded to the controversy, per CSNNE.com (emphasis added):

“My opinion is that I’m American and I love my country and I love my flag. I’ve got great buddies that have been in the military and they’ve sacrificed for my freedom, so I’d never want to do anything to disrespect that.

My standpoint is that I’m standing for every national anthem with my hand over my heart and I’m staring at that flag recognizing those sacrifices.

If I’ve got beef with a social justice issue or something else-wise, I’m going to find different avenues that are not disrespectful, especially to those that are military men and women that give me the freedom to do what I do.

I love what I do. There are better avenues and better methods to state [a protest]. At some point, it turns from stating disdain for what’s going on and it needs to go toward finding solutions to the problems that I think are widely recognized. They need great solutions coming from great leaders coming from different parts of the country. I think that opportunity has presented itself, and now it’s time for somebody to step, or collaborate, and bring those great solutions so that we can be the amazing country that I think we are.”

Auston Matthews, the 2016-17 Calder Memorial Trophy winner for Rookie of the Year and a center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, said he would not be participating in anthem protests, per CBC.ca:

“My great uncle served. I have friends and family who’ve served. There’s men and women who have risked their lives for the United States, people who have died for the United States.

To me, I don’t know if kneeling, sitting, stretching is something I’d really look into doing because to me it’s like a dishonor to the men and women who fight for that flag, that fight for the U.S.”

Matthews went on to state, “you have the right to say what you want” and said he would probably got to the White House with his team should the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.

Other teams, coaches, and players in the NHL have weighed in on the situation in support of visiting the White House and standing for the anthem, such as the back-to-back reigning champion Pittsburgh Penguins:


Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said the following:

The national anthem drama has, mostly, steered clear of the NHL, and the Penguins even accepted their invitation to the White House on Sunday in the middle of all the protests and controversy against the president.