Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown, a former Syracuse Crunch player, on Saturday night became the first hockey player to engage in a national anthem protest when he stood on the bench with his fist raised in the air. Brown said he received death threats and racist remarks on Twitter after his protest but defended his decision to bring light to “police brutality, racial injustice and inequality” in the U.S.
“I know it may not sit well with everyone, but to truly make change in this world we must be able to be pushed outside of our comfort zone,” Brown said on Twitter. “I want young minorities to see that what they may be going through is not being ignored by the hockey community.”
The 27-year-old Brown, who was scratched for Tampa Bay’s season-opening win against Florida, remained standing throughout the anthem Saturday night. Brown, one of approximately 30 black players in the NHL, used the same protest before a preseason game against the Panthers last month.
Brown played in Syracuse in the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. He is the son of former NFL running back Ted Brown, who played eight seasons for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Cup champion Penguins visited President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday, reiterating that it wasn’t about politics. Trump mostly stuck to hockey, and coach Mike Sullivan thought the ceremony went well.