Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly is the latest in the NHL to offer his thoughts on the controversial protests that have captured the nation’s attention over the last week.
In an interview with The Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur, Smith-Pelly spoke on Thursday about the issues prompting the wave of protests against racial injustice and the loneliness that comes with being one of only roughly 30 black players in the NHL. In total, black athletes make up less than five percent of a nearly 700-player league.
“Yeah, there’s a little bit of a lonely feeling,” Smith-Pelly said to Arthur. “I mean, all of us are on our teams by ourselves: there’s not two of us together, or three of us together. So if one of us were to do this, and nobody else on the team jumped in, you’re really by yourself.
“I can go to Joel and say, hey — because he understands what I’m going through as a black man in America. I can’t go to anyone on my team and have them understand really how it is to be in my shoes. Just because I’m a professional hockey player: they just don’t understand. So it’s really lonely in that sense. You don’t really have anyone.”
Smith-Pelly, a Toronto-area native, also relayed his conversations with former Capital Joel Ward about the motivations for the protest. Similarly to the statement he published yesterday, Ward wished to make sure that the issues prompting the protests were understood if Smith-Pelly and other black NHL players chose to speak publicly about them.
Additionally, 25-year-old Smith-Pelly spoke briefly to the Star about the fact that issues of racial violence and injustice transcend national borders. In doing so, he put aside questions of whether or not Canadians such as Ward and himself should even consider kneeling during the national anthem.
Headline photo: @Capitals
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