Blue Jackets Coach John Tortorella Says He’ll Bench Any Player Who Sits During Anthem


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Whether or not professional sports teams or leagues have the legal right to prohibit players from engaging in Colin Kaepernick-style protests is subject to debate. The law would certainly allow for some regulation of the time, manner, and place in which such beliefs are expressed. And one could argue that an employer does not have to allow employees to make certain kinds of political demonstrations on company time, or demonstrations that might be construed as speaking for the employer.

That said, it’s pretty clear that no employer is allowed to fire or penalize employees because of their political beliefs. And when it comes to the First Amendment, the Supreme Court is generally inclined to err on the side of caution by striking down as many restrictions as possible. So where exactly that line would be drawn in this case is difficult to say.

Interestingly, the San Francisco 49ers and National Football League have showed a lot of restraint in dealing with Colin Kaepernick and others taking a knee or sitting during the national anthem. It would seem they are comfortable with players exercising their First Amendment rights on company time so long as they don’t interfere with company business.

The same cannot be said of the always outspoken John Tortorella. On Tuesday the Columbus Blue Jackets and Team USA World Cup of Hockey coach was asked for his take on Kaepernick’s protest, and he did not mince words.

“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there for the rest of the game,” he told ESPN’s Linda Cohn.

Of course, this will not be an issue during the upcoming World Cup of Hockey because national anthems will not be played before games. However, it could be an issue for the NHL season.

One black NHL player—Tampa Bay’s T.J. Brown—has already voiced his concern over Tortorella’s comments.

NHL players are not known for being political activists. But it sounds like things could get interesting this season.

Hat Tip – [The Score]

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