San Jose Sharks winger Joel Ward has decided he will not take part in kneeling during the national anthem for the team's preseason game on Thursday night.
Ward announced his decision on Twitter, noting "the original message that was trying to be communicated has been lost" and focus has instead shifted "to the act of kneeling itself or to a protest of the flag or the military."
Ward told Paul Gackle of the San Jose Mercury News Tuesday he was considering taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem prior to Sharks games.
"I've experienced a lot of racism myself in hockey and on a day-to-day occurrence," he said. "I haven't really sat down to think about it too much yet, but I definitely wouldn't say no to it."
After President Donald Trump criticized NFL players who take a knee to protest during the national anthem at a rally in Alabama on Sept. 22, many teams and players in different sports have responded with demonstrations of unity before games.
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protests by taking a knee during the national anthem prior to games last year. He told NFL.com's Steve Wyche in August 2016 his decision to protest happened because he was "not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."
Ward is entering his 11th NHL season and third with the Sharks. The team has a preseason game against the Anaheim Ducks Thursday and opens the regular season Oct. 4 with a road game against the Philadelphia Flyers.