Lightning teammates on J.T. Brown: 'We've got his back'
Lightning wing J.T. Brown didn't address the media today, deciding to stick to his lengthy Twitter statement from Sunday on his silent protest from Saturday.
But Brown, 27, received support from players around the league and, more importantly, in the Lightning dressing room. Veteran wing Ryan Callahan spoke for the team.
"The big thing is, we've got 25 different guys in here, everyone is going to have a different opinion, come from a different background and upbringing," Callahan said. "Whether we agree or disagree with what (Brown) is doing, as a team we support him. We support (Brown) on and off the ice. Our biggest thing is we've got his back."
Brown said Sunday that he received racist comments and death threats on social media after deciding to raise his right fist during the anthem at Saturday's 5-4 loss to the Panthers in Sunrise. Brown, one of around 30 black players in the NHL, was the first player in the league to do a silent protest, in an attempt to raise awareness for racial inequality and police brutality.
Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly, another black player, said he reached out to Brown Saturday to tell him how much he loved and respected what he did. Smith-Pelly has considered doing a protest, but isn't sure if he will.
"I'm proud of him, proud that he did that and proud that he stood up and put himself out there," Smith Pelly said. "Because it's tough. It's tough anytime, but in this particiular sport, it's tough to put yourself out there.
"It's a lonely feeling, even without doing a protest. So that he stood out and put himself out there, I respect it a lot."
Why is it so tough?
"You look around the room, it's only me (who is black)," Smith-Pelly said. "Not many people that look like me. It's just the way it is right now. Not to say that people on the team, guys in this room don't think it's the right thing to do, but it's tough when I can't look over and the guy beside me knows exactly what's going on, exactly how I feel.
"That's makes what (Brown) did even more respectable. He's all by himself."
It's uncertain if Brown will be in the lineup tonight, as the Lightning could go with a seven defensemen alignment, which would make Gabriel Dumont and Brown scratches. The fact Brown is getting death threats and racist comments on social media proves these types of discussions need to happen.
"It's something that you have to keep doing it until something changes," Smith-Pelly said. "That's just the way it is."