Sharks

Joel Ward pens heartfelt message, explains why he won't kneel during anthem

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USATSI

Joel Ward pens heartfelt message, explains why he won't kneel during anthem

Joel Ward will not be the first player in NHL history to take a knee during the national anthem, the Sharks forward announced on Thursday. 

But his announcement came with a heartfelt message for equality and bridging the gap between communities:

Over the last several days, I have been asked if I would consider kneeeling during the playing of the U.S. national anthem. It's something I have spent a lot of time thinking about.

As a black man, I have experienced racism both inside and outside of the sporting world. I have been pulled over by law enforcement for no reason. I have been looked at suspiciously because of the color of my skin.

I hold an immense amount of respect for the many players -- across the sporting world -- that have chosen to peacefully bring attention to a couple of big issues in today's society, which are inequlaity and the use of excessive force against people of color in the United States of America. Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis.

I also feel that the original message that was trying to be communicated has been lost. The focus has shifted to the act of the kneeling itself or to a protest of the flag or the military. What are we really talking about here?

I feel extremely lucky to be able to play this great game of hockey, but even within our own game, we can treat each other better than we currently do at all levels of the sport. There is still progress to be made.

And that's where I want everyone to re-focus their attention -- on moving progress forward. We need to be working on bridging the gap between people of all oclor, and between law enforcement and minorities. How can we be a part of the solution and not a part of the problem -- or be another distraction from what the real issues are?

Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues, I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done.

But now that I have the world's attention, let's meet at the kitchen table, the locker room or in the stands and continue the healing process. Let our collective focus be on bridging the gap between communities -- on working to heal generations of unequal treatment of people of color in the United States of America -- and not turning our backs on that which is hard to face head on.

I will continue to work within my community to help improve the lives of others, and I intend to partner with groups dedicated to bridging racial inequality and fostering a better relationship between law enforcement and people of all color. 

If we spend more time talking about these real issues instead of the actions that are taking place in an attempt to raise awareness about them, we will be a much richer and stronger society.

-- Joel Randal Ward

"I believe in the goodness of a free society. And I believe that the society can remain good only as long as we are willing to fight for it, and to fight against whatever imperfections may exist." -- Jackie Robinson

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

Sharks win second straight, beat Devils to start road trip

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl.

The shots were 13 for each team in the evenly played period. The Devils came close on several occasions as former Shark Mirco Mueller and Blake Coleman both hit the crossbar and Jones robbed Drew Stafford on a dead-on drive from the slot.

Pavelski and Donskoi got second-period goals as the Sharks steadily tightened their grip on the game.

Pavelski tipped in Braun's point shot at 5:49. Joe Thornton got the second assist, his 1,395th point, to pass Luc Robitaille for 21st on the career list.

Donskoi backhanded a rebound shot with 1:10 left in the period in which the Sharks outshot the Devils 11-6.

The remaining drama centered on Jones' shutout bid.

NOTES: The Devils placed Schneider on injured reserve Friday with a lower-body injury and recalled Scott Wedgewood from Binghamton of the American Hockey League to serve as Kinkaid's backup. ... Mueller, a healthy scratch in three of the previous four games, returned for the Devils to face the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the first round, for the first time. He was dealt to New Jersey over the summer.

UP NEXT

Sharks: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Devils: Host Ottawa on Friday night.

As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect

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AP

As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect

When Joakim Ryan suits up in his first NHL road game against the New Jersey Devils Friday night, he’ll do so in a familiar place.

Ryan, a New Jersey-born Swede, played for the Devils’ youth program and nearby Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in high school. In fact, he’s already played at the Prudential Center, skating in the state championship game with CBA in 2009.

He’s not the only one due for something of a homecoming, as the Sharks may see a familiar face line up on the opposing blueline.

This is the Sharks’ first matchup against New Jersey since trading 2013 first round pick Mirco Mueller ahead of June’s Expansion Draft. Mueller was once considered the future on the San Jose blueline, a smooth-skating defenseman with size to boot.

The Swiss defender never fulfilled his potential, in part because his development was rushed from the start. He made the NHL roster as a rookie in 2014-15, almost by default. Other than Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the only defensemen ahead of him on left side of the depth chart were a far past-his-prime Scott Hannan and regular scratch Matt Irwin. Such was the nature of the Sharks’ “step back” that year.

Mueller finally got regular playing time, albeit in the minors, during his second professional season. By then, he was pushed down the organizational depth chart by the team’s acquisitions of Brenden Dillon and Roman Polak, and the development of Dylan DeMelo. David Schlemko’s signing last summer kept Mueller there for most of 2016-17, but it was Ryan and Tim Heed that ensured Mueller’s NHL future would lie elsewhere. The Swedes surpassed him, and emerged as perhaps the AHL’s best defensive pair in the process.

It’s fitting, then, that Ryan and Heed will be in the lineup tonight, and Mueller may not, as the fresh start he needed hasn’t quite panned out. He’s averaging a career-high 18:44 in ice time, but has been scratched in three of New Jersey’s seven games, including Thursday night’s overtime win in Ottawa.

So Ryan comes home to New Jersey under much happier circumstances than Mueller will reunite with the Sharks. One prodigal son returns, and the other is simply trying to save face.

It’s still early in his Devils tenure, of course, and Mueller may yet emerge as a regular on the New Jersey blueline. His Sharks reunion, though, will serve as a reminder of what once was, what could have been, and what is now San Jose’s future on defense.