Capitals' Smith-Pelly considers anthem protest: 'My team has my back' if I do it

As the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins prepare for the "great honor" of visiting the White House, a player from one of the Pens' chief rivals admitted he is considering whether to start protesting social injustice during pregame national anthems.

Drawing inspiration from J.T. Brown of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly told the Washington Post that he "definitely would do that," as in protest during the anthem, if he felt so compelled. And he added, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Post, that his team would back him if he decided to demonstrate, especially after his teammates read his comments in a Toronto Sun report about being "the only nonwhite player on the Capitals."

"A good amount of guys read the article and said, 'Hey, if you want to do something, we're here with you,'" Smith-Pelly said, according to the Post. "Same with the coaches. They said, 'If you want to do anything, we're here.' So, that felt good for me, a little less lonely. It felt good to know that my team has my back if I decide to do anything. ... If I feel like that's the right thing to do, I definitely would do that. I wouldn't be afraid to stand up if I felt that was the correct thing to do. As of this moment, I'm not sure, but it's crossed my mind for sure."

Smith-Pelly's latest comments stem from seeing Brown's own protest with the Lightning, where the Tampa Bay winger raising his fist during the anthem not to oppose the American flag or military but to raise awareness of "police brutality, racial injustice and inequality in this country." And it was a protest Brown said already elicited death threats.

"He made sure to make the point that it's not disrespecting the flag and making sure everyone knew his stance and making sure the point stayed the point rather than people straying away from what it really is," Smith-Pelly said of Brown. "I thought he did a great job. I reached out to him and told him I loved what he did. I'm glad he did it."

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