The NHL Players’ Association officially joined the political conversation on Wednesday.
In an email sent to players by executive director Donald Fehr, the NHLPA stated that any players who would like to participate in peaceful protests of their own “would of course have the full support of the NHLPA in regard to his right to do so.”
The statement comes amidst a North America-wide conversation that has intertwined sports and politics following U.S. President Donald Trump’s vicious comments directed at the entire National Football League. He even called for players to lose their jobs for not standing at attention during The Star-Spangled Banner, and directed words at NBA star Steph Curry.
This past weekend, countless NFL players took their stance against those comments with peaceful demonstrations that involved kneeling and/or locking arms during the national anthem.
Over the course of the past few days, a handful of NHLers have voiced varying opinions with regards to whether they, too, will opt to kneel during the U.S. national anthem. Joel Ward said Tuesday that he would consider kneeling—a comment backed by friend and fellow NHLer Wayne Simmonds on Wednesday. P.K. Subban reportedly said on Wednesday that he would never kneel for the anthem, while Auston Matthews said he feels it is “a dishonour” to those in the military to kneel during the anthem.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, meanwhile, announced on Sunday that they will be visiting the White House this upcoming season after being invited by Trump and his staff.