Joel Ward not sure of anthem plans for Sharks game Thursday

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SAN JOSE — Sharks forward Joel Ward said Wednesday he isn’t sure he’ll take a knee during the American national anthem at an upcoming Sharks game to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

Ward, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, said kneeling during the anthem remains a possibility, “just to show support. (Colin) Kaepernick did it to raise awareness of police brutality that he made a statement of… I think people kind of got away from that focus a little it. For a guy like myself that’s experienced racism in the past and other issues, I think it’s to help support, especially with what’s been going on as of late.”

It appears Ward, who is recovering from rotator cuff surgery in the offseason, will play Thursday night when the Sharks play in Anaheim against the Ducks.

“These issues do happen on a day-to-day (basis),” Ward said. “Just trying to do my part and show support.”

Ward said he’s happy to have the support of those around him. Ward recently met with general manager Doug Wilson and coach Pete DeBoer to discuss what actions he might take.

“They’ll definitely support whatever we decide,” Ward said.

The Sharks host the Philadelphia Flyers in their season opener on Oct. 4 in San Jose. Wayne Simmonds, who is also black and from Southern Ontario, like Ward, expressed his support Wednesday.

“I definitely back Wardo. I know Wardo very well,” Simmonds told Philly.com. “What’s going on now is a shame. I definitely back his statements. It doesn’t mean I’m going to kneel, and it doesn’t mean I’m not going to kneel.”

Ward said he and Simmonds have discussed the issue. “We’re good friends. We’ve chatted over the summer about some of these issues. I definitely think it’s a big point to make people aware of and to let people know that these are the things that we go through. He’s been through a few incidents himself. So have I.”

“It’s tough. It’s touch when it’s a game we both care about and love so much. We just want to go out there and help our team win. When somebody … puts you down because of the color of your skin, it’s definitely tough.

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