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San Jose Sharks' Joel Ward won't kneel for national anthem, says protest's message has been lost

AlexTois/iStock/Thinkstock(SAN JOSE, Calif.) -- San Jose Sharks forward Joel Ward, one of about thirty black players in the NHL, says he won't kneel for the national anthem -- saying the message of the protest that has swept the NFL has been lost.

"I hold an immense amount of respect for the many players - across the sporting world - that have chosen to peacefully bring attention to a couple of big issues in today's society, which are inequality and the use of excessive force against people of color in the United States of America," Ward wrote in his statement on Twitter. "Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis."


He notes that some people have become confused with the purpose of the protest, believing it to be a protest of the flag or the military.

Ward, 36, was born in Canada and his parents are from Barbados.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer told The San Jose Mercury News that he would support Ward's decision, saying "I'm a big freedom of speech guy. Everyone has the right to message how they want to."

But, Ward didn't rule out the possibility of joining a protest to highlight racism and inequality. "Let's meet at the kitchen table, the locker room or in the stands and continue the healing process," Ward wrote. "Let our collective focus be on bridging the gap between communities -- on working to heal generations of unequal treatment of people of color in the United States of America -- and not turning our backs on that which is hard to face."

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