Joel Ward isn’t ruling out the possibility that he could become the first NHL player to join the protests sweeping through the NFL by taking a knee during the national anthem at an upcoming Sharks game. As one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL, Ward has first-hand experience with racism. He knows what it’s like to be racially profiled by the police and he’s troubled by the rhetoric being used by President Donald Trump toward African American protestors in the NFL and NBA. “It’s definitely something I wouldn’t cross out,” Ward said when asked by the Mercury News whether he’d consider taking a knee during the national anthem at an upcoming Sharks game. “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, a Canadian player who’s the son of Barbadian immigrants, felt the sting of racism the first time he laced up the skates to play in a youth hockey game as a nine or 10-year-old in Toronto. Kids were calling him names and making racial slurs toward him from the stands. “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 color,” 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.