When the Flyers open the season in San Jose next Wednesday, the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds and the Sharks’ Joel Ward — veteran wingers and close friends who are two of about 30 black players in the NHL — are undecided about whether they will kneel when the national anthem is played. Both are considering it. In an interview with the San Jose Mercury News, Ward, who wears No. 42 in honor of baseball trailblazer Jackie Robinson, said he has experienced racism in hockey and that he was open to the idea of kneeling, a trend that has grown among NFL players as the national anthem has been played. “I definitely back Wardo. I know Wardo very well,” Simmonds said Wednesday at the Flyers’ practice facility in Voorhees. “What’s going on now is a shame. I definitely back his statements. It doesn’t mean I’m going to kneel, and it doesn’t mean I’m not going to kneel.” Simmonds, who led the Flyers with 31 goals last season, said a lot of people are misinterpreting the kneeling. “Everybody is relating to politics, but for the people who are doing the kneeling and protesting peacefully, I think it has nothing to do with how (other) people are taking it,” he said. “Some people are saying it’s a disrespect to the flag, a disrespect to the Army. That’s not the thought process behind it; it’s just the vehicle that’s being used to create a conversation about social inequality.” He said those conversations “aren’t going to be comfortable. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. The intention is to get a conversation going.” Added Simmonds: “In this day and age, obviously, you have to be cognizant of everything that’s going on. You see the protests in the NFL, you see guys in baseball starting to kneel…..It’s a hard subject to talk about. Everybody’s on one side or the other. It’s a fine line.” Simmonds doesn’t view the kneeling being solely about racial injustice.
Simmonds: Protests not about black and white, it's about what's right
Philly.com | Sep 27