ANAHEIM — Joel Ward stood with his San Jose Sharks teammates as he said he would, his right hand placed over his heart while the “Star-Spangled Banner” was being sung Thursday night prior to taking the ice against the Ducks at Honda Center.
An act not any different than the countless times the longtime NHL winger has done took on some notable significance this occasion. Ward officially put to bed the possibility that he would join dozens of NFL players and become the first hockey player to kneel in front of the anthem as a symbol of protest.
His decision came after a period of introspection. Ward told the San Jose Mercury News that he had considered taking a knee but ultimately spelled out his reasons why he would stand with his teammates in a lengthy eloquent post on his Twitter account Thursday morning.
In it, Ward emphasized the need to focus not on the act of kneeling as a sign of disrespect toward the American flag or the military but on “working to heal generations of unequal treatment of people of color in the United States of America.” He chose not to discuss the topic after the Ducks’ 3-0 win.
“If we spend more time talking about these real issues instead of the actions that are taking place in an attempt to raise awareness about them, we will be a much richer and stronger society,” Ward wrote, ending his post with a quote from Jackie Robinson.
Ward, a Toronto native whose parents emigrated from Barbados, wears No. 42 in tribute to Robinson and maintained his support for the African-American players and others that have joined together in protest as a means of calling attention to social injustice issues such as racial profiling and police brutality.
It has brought about conversations that Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said needed to be had. His team had such one before Friday’s practice. Getzlaf said the Ducks will be united, not only in standing for the anthem but also in support of the message protesting athletes are trying to get…