On Saturday night, Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown became the first NHL player to protest the national anthem, a practice that happens with regularity in the NFL.
During the playing of the anthem prior to the 27-year-old Brown, a black player, closed and raised his fist in order to, in his words, "do something to show my support."
"There are some issues that we have to talk about, so in my mind, I'm just trying to bring a little bit more awareness and any type of conversation that we can get started with would be great," Brown said Saturday night.
Brown, who has 18 goals and 39 assists in 263 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, followed up his protest with a statement on twitter on Sunday say that he has received "racist remarks and death threats because I disagree with how I chose to raise awareness."
Brown's statement in whole reads:
"First, I would like to thank those for their overwhelming support not only from family, friends, and fans; some who I know and who I have never met before. I also wanted to reiterate that this is not or has never been about the military or disrespecting the flag. It is about police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality in this country. It is something that I as well as many others feels needs to be addressed. I love my country, but that doesn't mean I cannot acknowledge that it is not perfect. In my life, I have been through more than my fair share of racism, both on and off the ice. There comes a time where you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for a change. It takes much more. We all see the world through our own eyes, but I hope that we can try to understand what others experience.
"While making my decision, I prayed and asked for god to guide me and I spoke with my family. I also talked with members of the military to have an empathetic conversation about the demonstrations during the national anthem. I tried to use as much knowledge as possible to make an educated decision. I know it may not sit well with everyone, but to truly make change in this world we must be pushed outside of our comfort zone. We can't just stick to the status quo. I want young minorities to see what they may be going through is not being ignored by the hockey community.
"I have respect for those who put their lives on the line to protect and serve their community. I have both negative and positive encounters with police officers so to say all police officers are bad would be false. Again, this is about bringing awareness to the real issues and not changing the narrative. My @'s on twitter alone prove why this topic must be talked about. I have received racist remarks and death threats because I disagree with how I chose to raise awareness. We need to be able to listen to those with an opposing view and talk to one another if he want (sic) to learn, grow, and make change.
"I will continue to be active. I the community and make sure that we are all continually striving for a more and equal & inclusive environment."