“It’s definitely something I wouldn’t cross out,” Ward told the San Jose Mercury News. “I’ve experienced a lot of racism myself in hockey and on a day-to-day occurrence. I haven’t really sat down to think about it too much yet, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to it.”
Ward is black and grew up in Toronto as the son of Barbadian immigrants. He’s experienced racism throughout his whole life dating back to his childhood at local rinks.
“I had no clue what the words meant until my parents educated me about what was going on in my surroundings. I was just a kid who fell in love with the game and picked up a hockey stick. I didn’t really look at it as colour,” Ward said. “As I got older and looked across the locker-rooms and dressings rooms, I realized I’m the only black kid in the whole arena.
“I’ve experienced racism as a kid, as an adult. I think I’ll always experience it.”
More recently, Ward was the subject of death threats and vicious racism by Boston Bruins fans on social media after he scored the winning goal in Game 7 of a first-round series while with the Washington Capitals.
Sharks coach Pete DeBoer told the Mercury News that Ward has his support if he decides to kneel during the Star-Spangled Banner.
“I went to law school. I’m a big freedom of speech guy. Everyone has the right to message how they want to,” DeBoer said.
“That’s what makes our countries great, Canada and the U.S., is the freedom to able to express yourself if you feel like you’ve been wronged or there’s an injustice.”
Ward added he’s discussed the issue with Sharks GM Doug Wilson as well.
“Doug’s been unbelievable,” Ward said. “He agrees that it’s freedom of speech. Obviously, he’s aware of what’s going on. I’ve let him know how I feel about the whole issue and he’s been open to listening and offering support.”