The sports world's racial justice protests that started a year ago when former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernik started kneeling during the "Star-Spangled Banner" have come at last to professional hockey. On Saturday night, J.T. Brown, a forward with the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, kept his right fist raised during the playing of the national anthem before his team's first away game of the season, CBC reports. Brown, who is one of approximately 30 black players in the NHL, says he wanted to show support for the cause even though he's aware he's courting criticism. "I know there's going to be negative backlash, but in my heart I know I did what was right," Brown says.
ESPN reports that Brown's demonstration was the first-ever during a national anthem in the NHL. Unlike other professional sports, the league has no rules governing behavior during the national anthem, and Brown's team issued a statement of support after Saturday night's game: "The Tampa Bay Lightning celebrate the moment before every game when we can unite as a community … At the same time, we respect our players and individual choices they may make on social and political issues." After President Trump called for football players who don't stand for the anthem to be fired in late September, teams across the NFL performed demonstrations before their games that weekend. Brown is the son of Ted Brown, a former running back with the Minnesota Vikings.