An unidentified hockey coach went viral Monday when a video surfaced of his impassioned speech warning players not to protest the national anthem.
The video, which has garnered more than 480,000 views on Twitter since being shared by user Wojciech Pawelczyk, shows the coach addressing his team and referencing recent national anthem controversies in the NFL and U.S. women’s soccer.
“We’re not women’s soccer. We’re not the NFL. If there’s anybody here who is going to be disrespectful to either the American or the Canadian national anthem, grab your gear and get the fuck out now because you’ll never see the ice in this arena,” the coach told his players. “We don’t have that problem in hockey, we’re better than that, but there was no sense in wasting anybody’s time if that shit was going to happen.”
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sparked a furious cultural debate when he kneeled to protest the national anthem during the 2016 preseason. While the action played a role in Kaepernick being exiled from the league, he was widely praised by progressives and other professional athletes soon followed his lead.
Meanwhile, U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe, a fierce critic of President Donald Trump, has made headlines recently, both for her stellar play in the 2019 Women’s World Cup and for her protests during the national anthem.
The sport of hockey isn’t having it
The sport of hockey has been much more reluctant to indulge open political statements by its athletes. At the height of the anthem protest controversy in 2016, U.S. Hockey World Cup coach John Tortorella said he would bench any of his players who didn’t stand for the U.S. anthem.
“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,” Tortorella told ESPN in September 2016.
“We’re in a great country because we can express ourselves,” Tortorella explained further when asked about his remarks. “And I am not against expressing yourselves. That’s what’s great about our country. We can do that. But when there are men and women that give their lives for their flag, for their anthem, have given their lives, continue to put themselves on the line with our services for our flag, for our anthem, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries for these people that give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there’s no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you’re trying to make a point.”
“It is probably the most disrespectful thing you can do as a U.S. citizen is to bring that in,” Tortorella added “Because that’s our symbol. All for [expressing] yourself. That’s what’s so great. Everybody does. But no chance when it comes to the flag and the anthem. No chance.”