After speculation, NHL player Joel Ward says he will not kneel during national anthem

Kelsey Driscoll,

Joel Ward will not kneel for the national anthem. 

Ward, a right winger for the San Jose Sharks of the NHL, posted a lengthy statement to his Twitter account on Thursday after days of speculation about whether or not he may take a knee in solidarity with NFL players protesting social injustices. Ward is one of roughly 30 black players in the National Hockey League. 

"As a black man, I have experienced racism both inside and outside of the sporting world," Ward wrote. "Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis."

The hockey player, whose parents are immigrants to Canada from Barbados, has been long outspoken about racial equality within the league. In 2016, Ward spoke to ESPN, advocating for the league-wide retirement of number 22, which was worn by Willie O'Ree, the first black player in NHL history. 

While San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said he would support Ward should he elect to kneel for the anthem, the right winger has made his decision clear.

"Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues," his statement continued, "I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done."

The sporting world saw an uptick in athletes taking a knee for the Star-Spangled Banner last weekend after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players for doing so, saying those who kneel should be fired.

The president also made waves when he retracted an invitation for the Golden State Warriors of the NBA to visit the White House after star Stephen Curry said he would not go, but he made it clear that the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins are still invited

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