The NHL’s board of governors approved a change to the coach’s challenge rule Wednesday, but that wasn’t the only topic brought up at the meeting.
According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, the board also discussed national anthems and the role they play at NHL games.
A growing number of NFL players have begun kneeling, sitting, raising a fist or linking arms with teammates during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” prior to games. It’s a trend that has become a divisive topic in the North American sports landscape and one that may continue in other leagues with the NHL and NBA regular seasons just around the corner.
It’s unclear if any NHL players will kneel during the anthem, but Joel Ward of the San Jose Sharks and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers said they might consider doing so.
As A.J. Perez of USA Today Sports points out: “The NHL’s rule book does not address a player’s responsibilities during the anthem and a person with direct knowledge of the league’s polices who is not authorized to speak publicly said there are no other guidelines currently in place ahead of the start of the NHL regular season on Oct. 4.”
NHL Players’ Association executive Donald Fehr released the following statement Wednesday:
“As you know, we now see a marked increase in the number of professional athletes kneeling, sitting, locking arms or otherwise taking a different approach to acknowledging the playing of the U.S. national anthem. It certainly appears this will continue in the near future, as will the public conversations surrounding the issue.
“We believe each player may choose to speak out or engage in peaceful protest on matters that are important to him. A player is entitled to his own views on political and social issues, and the right of each player to express such views deserves respect. Should a player decide to make such a peaceful protest, he would of course have the full support of the NHLPA in regard to his right to do so.”