BRIGHTON, Mass – As a two-time US Olympian, David Backes has never shied away from showing love and respect for the country he grew up playing and loving hockey, or for the people who serve and protect it as well. So, it’s probably no surprise where the 33-year-old Minnesotan came down when asked about the national anthem protests that have happened in the other three major North American sports, and hit something of an unfortunate high note Sunday in the NFL after some unfortunate, and all too predictably divisive comments, from President Donald Trump.
“My opinion is that I’m American and I love my country and I love my flag,” said Backes. “I’ve got great buddies that have been in the military and they’ve sacrificed for my freedom, so I’d never want to do anything to disrespect that. My standpoint is that I’m standing for every national anthem with my hand over my heart and I’m staring at that flag recognizing those sacrifices. If I’ve got beef with a social justice issue or something else-wise, I’m going to find different avenues that are not disrespectful, especially to those that are military men and women that give me the freedom to do what I do.
“I love what I do. There are better avenues and better methods to state [a protest]. At some point, it turns from stating disdain for what’s going on and it needs to go toward finding solutions to the problems that I think are widely recognized. They need great solutions coming from great leaders coming from different parts of the country. I think that opportunity has presented itself, and now it’s time for somebody to step, or collaborate, and bring those great solutions so that we can be the amazing country that I think we are.”
The national anthem has pretty much been a non-issue in the NHL to date where many games feature two anthems rather than just the "Star-Spangled Banner", but it was interesting timing to see the Pittsburgh Penguins officially accept their White House invitation on Sunday as the NFL national anthem activity was playing out in real time.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.
*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.
*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.
*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.
*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.
*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs.
*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.
Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.
Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.
MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues
The Bruins currently sit six points behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.
If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.