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article imageTortorella says he'll bench any U.S. player who sits for anthem

By Marcus Hondro     Sep 7, 2016 in Sports
The fiery coach of the U.S. team competing in the World Cup of Hockey told media today he will not tolerate players doing what Colin Kaepernick did. Coach John Tortorella said if an American player sits for the national anthem they won't play.
Tortorella and anthem
Tortorella, whose son Nick is a Ranger in the U.S. Army and serves out-of-country, said he gets excited about representing his country at tournaments such as this and considers the anthem something special that honors the country's armed forces and the sacrifices its members have made.
The coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, clearly feels that a hockey game is not a place to make a social protest. Tortorella also noted that he gets "pretty caught up" coaching his country's national team and said there is "nothing like it."
"It is hockey but I also think it is a huge platform for us to represent our country," he told Kevin Allen of USA Today. "Especially in today’s world, with everything is going on."
He told Linda Cohn of ESPN that anyone on his team who sits for the anthem can remain seated for the duration. "If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game," he told Cohn.
Kaepernick protest
Kaepernick, of the San Francisco 49er, sat during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, the U.S. National Anthem, before his team's preseason games. The NFL opens its season this week and the back-up quarterback said he will continue his protest because he refuses "to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of colour."
His coach, Chip Kelly, and many others, support his decision to make his feelings known by not standing for the anthem. Many others don't, however, though of those who don't, many still applaud his conviction and support his right to refuse to stand.
At least two other NFL players have joined his tactic and not stood for the playing of the anthem, as has Megan Rapinoe who took a knee in support of Kaepernick at a recent National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) game.
Some players on the U.S. hockey team were asked by media about Kaepernick's protest. Players may respect the disgruntled American-American athlete but none indicated they intend to join his protest. American forward David Backes is one who thinks of soldiers when he hears the anthem.
“I think as athletes we have a great platform and to use it to influence social change is within our right,” the Boston Bruin star said. “Whether you should do that during the anthem, which stands for our country and salutes those who have given their lives for our country, allowing athletes to play, is a matter of debate. I have my opinions on that."
"He is going to do his thing," Backes added. "But I salute those who have stood for our country, who have died and given limbs and lives for us. I will salute that flag every time it is raised."
The World Cup of hockey goes from September 17 until October 1, with the U.S. beginning round-robin play on opening day against Team Europe. All games are in Toronto but pre-tournament exhibition games will take place in Canadian, American and European cities.
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