Team USA hockey coach John Tortorella made it abundantly clear what he expects his players to do during the National Anthem. “If any of my players sit on the bench for the National Anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game.” This stance comes after multiple athletes from various sports have joined Colin Kaepernick’s “cause” to sit during the anthem in protest of police brutality and black oppression.
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Tortorella, who coaches the Columbus Blue Jackets who are headed to the World Cup of Hockey in just weeks, says he expects every player to respect the National Anthem. His comments came in the wake of the ongoing controversy surrounding Kaepernick and other athletes who have been kneeling or sitting during the playing of the country’s national anthem at sporting events.
Forty-niner teammate Eric Reid took a knee with the QB on the sidelines Thursday, which then inspired U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe to follow suit on Sunday. Seahawks cornerback Jeremy Lane also sat out the anthem last week and said he would continue to support the rival quarterback during the NFL regular season.
Things only got worse when Kaepernick refused to stand during the San Diego Chargers’ ‘Salute to the Military Night.’ Many are outraged and see Kaepernick’s gesture as an insult to the country and the servicemen and women who protect it.
Tortorella, 58, has a reputation for being brash and outspoken. While head coach of the New York Rangers in 2012, the Boston native was fined 30,000 dollars for insinuating the Winter Classic, the NHL’s annual outdoor game on New Year’s Day, was rigged to force overtime.
One strong indication of why he feels so strongly about the controversial topic is because his son Nick is a member of the Army Rangers. “I know these are hockey games,” said Tortorella, “but I do look at it like it’s for my country.”