At a time when it seems almost fashionable to protest during the National Anthem, one professional hockey player insists he will never kneel while it plays. Who he is, however, is the real story.
P.K. Subban, of the Nashville Predators, isn’t just one of the biggest stars in the NHL. He’s one of the few black players in the league. He is known not only for his aggressive play as a defenseman, but for stating his mind, regardless of how people think. He is not, however, following the lead of many prominent black athletes on political issues.
On Tuesday night, Subban attended a fundraiser in Nashville and was asked about the political protests that started with the NFL and have spread to other sports. In response, Subban said he would “never” kneel during the anthem over a political issue, because he respects the American flag too much.
Subban performed at a fundraiser on Tuesday night at Zanies Comedy Club in Nashville, to benefit Comedy Cares. He told the audience that he would “never” take a knee during the national anthem, because he has too much respect for the American flag. His comments were sent to us by two eyewitnesses, and confirmed by the Predators. Subban, who is Canadian, is considered the most prominent black player in pro hockey.
Earlier in the day, the Nashville Predators announced that, as a team, they would not engage in any protests during the national anthem. This came less than two days after hundreds of NFL players, coaches and executives showed solidarity in rebuking President Donald Trump’s comments that players who protested police brutality against African-Americans during the national anthem were “sons of bitches” who deserved to lose their jobs.
According to Seth Dean, a Predators fans who attended the comedy fundraiser event, Subban took the stage and said “he will continue to stand, respect, and sing along with U.S. anthem.” At one point, he pointed out a friend of his in the crowd who was a law enforcement officer from Boston.
From Dean: “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 anthem as unequivocal as he possibly could.”
In an email to Yahoo Sports, Hailey, another attendee, described the scene in more detail:
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.
Subban has never been one to politicize his race, and doesn’t let race identity consume him. Earlier this year, he told ESPN “I never look at myself as a black player. I think of myself as a hockey player who wants to be the best hockey player in the league. I know I’m black. Everyone knows I’m black. But I don’t want to be defined as a black hockey player.”