Don Cherry backs John Tortorella, J.T. Brown of Lightning doesn’t

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Greg Wyshynski
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GettyImages-461986938
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Along with loud suits and hot takes during “Hockey Night in Canada,” Don Cherry is known as one of the military’s staunchest advocates and most public backers in Canada. That includes admirable work on behalf of Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services, to get soldiers and their families better benefits.

So it comes as little surprise that Cherry would back Columbus Blue Jackets and Team USA coach John Tortorella, who said this week that any player that sat during the national anthem in protest – like Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers did to raise awareness of mistreatment of minorities by law enforcement – would then sit for the game under his watch.

Said Cherry, via Twitter:

Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 10.48.12 AM
Screen Shot 2016-09-08 at 10.48.12 AM

It should be pointed out that Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, who thought that Team USA was governed by the laws of Congress, is at this point the only member of the left, right, west, buffalo, or any other wing-media that has called for Tortorella to be fired.

(It should also be noted that those who might use the national anthem for protest could, in theory, love God and/or animals.)

(Again, in theory.)

Cherry previously indicated that Kaepernick was only standing up now because he’s nearing the end of his career, and that those who oppose him are painted by the media as “rednecks.”

On the other side of the debate is J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

We’ve previously written about how African-American and black Canadian players whose teams are in U.S. cities were oddly left out of the initial reaction pieces on the national anthem protest and the NHL – odd, considering their experiences were at the heart of Kaepernick’s protest, before the story shifted to chest-puffing patriotism litmus tests.

Defenseman Seth Jones, who is black and plays for Tortorella with the Columbus Blue Jackets, told Sportsnet 590 in Toronto that he had no issue with Tortorella’s comments:

“I think that it’s fair. That’s his way of doing it, and obviously they’re comparing it to the whole Colin Kaepernick thing, but he’s got a right to believe whatever he wants. … I have no problem. You’re not going to see anything from any of us with Torts, so I have no problem with that.”

Brown, an African-American forward with the Lightning, registered his disagreement with Tortorella’s stance on Twitter:

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He then sent a more detailed statement to Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times:

“I’d like to make it clear that I have no ill will towards John Tortorella. I do not know him. I responded to a story on Twitter with my opinion and that was how I saw it. He sees the situation through his reality and I see it through mine, as a black athlete in the NHL. I know I’m not on the United States World Cup roster, but I have had a chance to represent my country on other occasions. My tweet was a hypothetical. What if I took a stance to promote awareness for one of the many injustices still occurring in our country and was punished despite there being no rule or law against it? My tweet was a response to that question.

“I could have been quiet and just kept my opinion to myself, but I don’t want young minorities who love the game of hockey to think that what’s going on in America today is going unnoticed by the hockey community. I love America and thank the military for protecting our freedoms, as well as law enforcement for protecting and serving our communities, but that doesn’t mean I can’t acknowledge that there is still racism today. I am glad my tweet provoked a discussion, because we need to start having a conversation about racism if we want to work towards a better America.

“While I don’t plan on sitting during the national anthem, I will look for more opportunities to positively impact my community and bring awareness to racial issues.”

Two different realities. Two different views. And in the end, one coach who believes his are justified to the point where he’d but them ahead of the success of the team on the ice. Judge that as you will.

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.

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