News and Commentary

Not One Player Kneels At NHL Games, Two Teams Show ‘Unity Supporting Equality’ During Anthem In Different Way
The New York Islanders and the New York Rangers stand together as the Canadian and American national anthems are played before the start of an exhibition game prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on July 29, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario.
Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

Bucking trends in other professional sports, not a single player kneeled during the playing of the national anthem at three different NHL exhibition games played this week.

The Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins all stood for the anthem on Tuesday.

“The Penguins and Flyers, two of the fiercest rivals in sports, united in solidarity this afternoon, to stand up against social injustice, racism, and hate,” a post from the Penguins said. “The teams stood as one across each club’s respective blue lines prior to today’s game.”

During an exhibition game between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers in Toronto Wednesday, all players and coaches stood as the Canadian and American national anthems played before the game started.

The following day, Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators players stood during the national, as well. Instead of taking a knee, players locked arms before the exhibition game “as a show of unity supporting equality,” Dallas News reported.

Captioning a photo of players locking arms, the official Twitter account for the Stars posted, “Bigger than hockey. We stand together for equality.”

Kneeling during the national anthem began back in 2016, when then-San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest what he described as systemic police brutality against black Americans. Kaepernick’s messaging has since included pro-communist signaling and general anti-American sentiment.

“You’ve seen all the other teams do it,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn, referring to players linking arms. “We had some chats with Nashville and talked with [captain] Roman Josi. We thought it would be good to mix it up, link arms. We stand for equality and I think it’s important we keep talking about it and keep improving it.”

According to Dallas News, “Benn and Stars forward Ty Dellandrea also wore hoodies to their postgame interview that read ‘#WeSkateFor Equality,’ part of the league’s initiative that allows teams to choose a cause that they skate for. Players can individually choose a cause for the league’s #ISkateFor campaign.”

As part of the #ISkateFor campaign, reported Matthew DeFranks, players can choose from slogans that range from honoring frontline essential workers to promoting social justice.

In the wake of the death of George Floyd, a black man who died following an arrest where an officer held his knee on the 46-year-old’s neck for several minutes, the kneeling protests have picked up steam across other professional sports, such as the MLB, NBA, and the WNBA. The kneeling has been tied to the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Thursday night, every player, coach, and referee in attendance at Utah Jazz v New Orleans Pelicans NBA game took a knee during the national anthem, players wore “Black Lives Matter” warmup shirts, and the court said “Black Lives Matter” in large black letters.

In the “What We Believe” section of the official Black Lives Matter website, the organization calls for the “national defunding of police,” for the “disruption” of the nuclear family, and to “dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.”

Related: Steelers Player Won’t Kneel For Anthem: ‘Screw Anybody’ Who Has A ‘Problem With That’; Talks Of Immigrant Grandmother

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