In this first round robin game of the playoff tournament, Dallas Stars forwards Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson, as well as Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner and forward Ryan Reaves elected to join each other in silent protest by taking a knee during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner. Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba was the first NHL player to kneel during the restart when he took a knee for the U.S. anthem before Edmonton took on Chicago on Saturday in the first restart game at Rogers Place, following his moving speech on human rights and the importance of ending racism.
NHL players hadn’t been as visible as those in other pro sports leagues — particularly the NBA and Major League Soccer — in addressing racial injustice since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May.
Lehner knew he had to do something even if he has now revealed he’s received frightening threats for his actions in an interview with the Swedish website Expressen.
“It’s sad to see how things are right now and that there are quite threatening reactions on social media. But this is something I believe in, it is my reality and something I have gone through with my loved ones.
“Now the media is dragging politics into this, for me it’s just about everyone having the same right. I love this country, but it’s so wrong when people have to drag the military in this and that I’m against it. I spent three months with the military when I underwent rehabilitation a few years ago and I know how often they are left out (omitted?) and saw how they are treated when they return from serving in wars abroad. I was in contact with several of them before I did this knee bend before the match and they had no problems with the action.”
Agree with Lehner or not, he does have the right to peaceful protest. And I hope fans and people reacting can be peaceful about it too!