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Sharks' Joel Ward Won't Rule Out Becoming First NHL Player to Kneel During National Anthem

Ward is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL. 

San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward, who is one of roughly 30 black players in the NHL, said he has not ruled out kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. 

Ward made the comments in a wide-ranging interview with the Mercury-News' Paul Gackle. Ward discussed growing up in Canada as the son of Barbadian immigrants as well as his experience being black in a sport dominated by white athletes. 

“It’s definitely something I wouldn’t cross out,” Ward said when asked about kneeling by the Mercury News. “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 said he'd consider sitting for the anthem despite being a Canadian citizen. 

“I’ve dealt with it on both sides (of the border). It’s just about standing up for what’s right,” he said.​

The Sharks have begun preseason play and open the regular season by hosting the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 4. 

National anthem protests have been a national debate since former 49ers quarterback chose to kneel during the anthem last season. More recently, the protests have been a national storyline after Donald Trump said NFL owners should "fire" NFL players who protest the anthem and referred to them as "son of a b----."

NFL players responded with with widespread protests and signs of solidarity in Week 3; most teams linked arms during the anthem, while a number of players kneeled.

How NFL Players and Teams Protested During the National Anthem

The NHL hasn't been a site for much political activism, perhaps because most of its players aren't American. Last season, roughly 27 percent of players on NHL rosters were American-born. 

The Penguins announced on Sunday that they will make a trip to the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup title.