Capitals coach Barry Trotz said Wednesday he won’t address his team on how to handle the national anthem.
The NHL has been playing preseason games for the past two weeks, but so far no player has knelt during performances of the national anthem.
Protests in the NFL and frustration among athletes with the president spiked this weekend, however, after Donald Trump called protesting players “sons of [expletive],” and suggested owners fire them.
In response, athletes across the NFL linked arms, knelt, sat — in one instance, stretched — during the anthem on Sunday and Monday.
Trotz, a Canadian who lives with his family in Virginia, didn’t think he had to speak with the team. The Capitals play Wednesday against the New Jersey Devils at Capital One Arena.
“That’s the great thing about our country,” Trotz said. “Everybody gets to speak our piece, if you will, without sometimes ramifications. Other countries, there’s dire consequences if you speak up. That’s the gift of living in the United States. People can express it and support anybody for that.
“For me personally, we’re honoring the flag. We’re maybe not honoring some of the things that are going on in our country.”
In San Jose, Sharks forward Joel Ward told the Mercury News that he wouldn’t cross out taking a knee during the anthem, citing his experiences with racism through hockey.
Ward is one of the roughly 30 black players in the NHL. If he does kneel, Ward said it would be done to raise awareness of racial injustice.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, meanwhile, said Sunday they have accepted an invitation to the White House and are scheduled to visit on Oct. 10, the day before the team plays the Capitals in Washington.