Hockey Coach Becomes Viral Sensation for Telling Players to Either Respect National Anthem or Leave

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
July 9, 2019 Updated: November 25, 2021

A hockey coach has garnered the attention of the internet for a locker room speech he made about the national anthem, where he told players to either respect it or to leave.

The coach, who has not been identified, became viral after a video of him giving a talk to a number of players in his hockey team was posted to Twitter on July 8. It garnered over 29,000 likes and 11,000 shares about a day after it was posted.

“We’re not women’s soccer. We’re not the NFL. If there’s anybody here who is going to be disrespectful to either the American or the Canadian national anthem, grab your gear and get the [expletive] out now because you’ll never see the ice in this arena. We don’t have that problem in hockey, we’re better than that but there was no sense in wasting anybody’s time if that [expletive] was going to happen,” the coach said in the video.

Many people on social media expressed support for the coach while praising his speech.

“Here is a professional who respects his country and knows their livelihood depends on the public’s acceptance. He pointed the non-conformists in the right direction. Clear, concrete and truthful. Love it and admire it!” one person wrote.

“Great speech, Coach! I used to love watching NFL games and Women’s World Cup but they’ve managed to ruin it for me. You’ve given me a reason to become a hockey fan. Thanks!!” another person said.

“This is the speech that should have been delivered to the before the World Cup started,” another person stated, referring to the U.S. women’s soccer team, who won against the Netherlands in the World Cup finals on July 7.

The women’s soccer team has recently been garnering extensive attention for overtly displaying their political preferences. The team’s co-captain Megan Rapinoe has received backlash for refusing to sing the “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the team’s first World Cup match against Thailand on June 11.

She was also the first white athlete to kneel during the anthem in 2016, in support of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who started kneeling during the anthem to protest against perceived racism and inequality by law enforcement toward African Americans.

Rapinoe was also involved in a public feud with President Donald Trump after she said she would not visit the White House if her team wins the World Cup. She doubled down on her comments a several press conferences during the World Cup period.

Her comments sparked backlash and even criticism from Trump, who admonished her for conduct that he believes disrespect the White House, the flag, and the country.

“Women’s soccer player, , just stated that she is ‘not going to the [expletive] White House if we win.’ Other than the NBA, which now refuses to call owners, owners (please explain that I just got Criminal Justice Reform passed, Black unemployment is at the lowest level in our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House,” Trump said. “I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!”

Similarly, another team member midfielder Allie Long was criticized after she briefly dropped the U.S. flag onto the ground in order to do a victory dance with Rapinoe, who had won the Golden Boot trophy on July 7.

Another player, Kelley O’Hara, rushed to grab the flag off the ground as Rapinoe, Long, and a third player faced fans and celebrated.

This is not the first time a hockey coach has given such a stern talk to their team regarding the national anthem. In 2016, hockey coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets,  John Tortorella, said he would bench any players if they did not stand for the national anthem.

“If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game,”  Tortorella told ESPN.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.