Most Prominent Black NHL Player Won’t Kneel For U.S. Anthem. And He’s Canadian.

P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators [Photo by nhl.com]

On Tuesday night, the most prominent black player in the NHL stated bluntly that he would “Never” take a knee for the U.S. National Anthem.

P.K. Subban, who is Canadian and plays for the Nashville Predators, was appearing at a fundraiser in Nashville, and said he would never take a knee for the anthem because he has too much respect for the American flag. Not only did two eyewitnesses claim he made the remarks, the Predators confirmed them later.

During the day Tuesday, the Predators announced that as a team, they would not protest during the national anthem. CEO Sean Henry told the Tennessean:

When this all came about, we wanted to get together with our team because everything we do is collaborative. When we say what we’re going to be doing, it really is a ‘we.’ Everyone had input on it. We are honoring the anthem and the flag and the country by standing during the anthem. We invite our fans to do so with us. “It is also our way of honoring what else it stands for, and it does provide for the freedom for others to express their views and protests in a manner in which they feel comfortable doing. We just think there’s proper forums for all. Our games have become this unifying celebration, so we have decided that we’re all going to stand together to honor the country and all that comes with it.

Eyewitness Seth Dean said Subban asserted “he will continue to stand, respect, and sing along with U.S. anthem.” Subban reportedly gestured to a friend of his who was a law enforcement officer from Boston.

Dean added:

He also addressed why he always shuffles his feet during anthem. He first said it could be ADD but he was never tested. Then he mentioned just being pumped up by crowd and excited to support USA even as a Canadian. He even jokingly suggested we should all stand and sing anthem there at Zanies (which didn’t happen). He obviously wasn’t going to go against Lavy’s proclamation that players were going to stay standing, especially with his coach in the room, but he made his support for the anthem as unequivocal as he possibly could.

Hailey, another attendee, emailed Yahoo Sports this version of events:

Tonight was a comedy fundraiser at Zanies in Nashville, for which Ryan Hamilton was the headliner. As my attendance was spontaneous, I was pretty excited when PK Subban was the first “comedian”. Much to my surprise, his allegedly “impromptu” set ended with a tense promise from PK that despite his previous dancing antics during the national anthem, he would NEVER kneel during the national anthem, followed by a long rant about his “respect” for the American flag.

In 2013, Subban won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, and tied with Kris Letang as the leading scorer among defensemen.