Associated Press

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) – Sharks forward Joel Ward told The Mercury News he might take a knee during the national anthem at an upcoming game, becoming the first NHL player to join the protests that started in the NFL and drew criticism from President Donald Trump.

gettyimages 625213484 National Anthem Protests May Come to NHL

Joel Ward #42 of the San Jose Sharks (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The 36-year-old Ward, one of about 30 black players in the league, is from Canada. Asked by the newspaper if he would consider kneeling during the anthem, Ward said it’s something he “wouldn’t cross out.”

Related story: WWII Vet, 97, Takes a Knee in Support of Anthem Protests

“I’ve experienced a lot of racism myself in hockey and on a day-to-day occurrence,” he said. “I haven’t really sat down to think about it too much yet, but I definitely wouldn’t say no to it.”

The Sharks play against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center on February 20.

Related story: Meet the St. Louis Blues National Anthem Contest Winners

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in the preseason a year ago to make a statement about social inequality and police treatment of blacks in the United States. More than 200 players knelt or took other action during Sunday’s anthems in the wake of Trump’s suggestion that NFL owners fire players who protest during “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league baseball player to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday.

Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he would back Ward if he decides to take a knee this season. Ward said general manager Doug Wilson also has been supportive.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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