Red Wings' Blashill veers wide of protests engulfing sports

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Coach Jeff Blashill isn’t into hypotheticals.

So when asked about the prospect of a player taking a knee during the national anthem, any sort of symbolic gesture, Blashill wasn’t going there Monday, a day after incidents around the NFL.

“I love this country, I’m extremely proud to be an American,” Blashill said. “I coach the Detroit Red Wings, so for me, right now, I’m focused 100 percent on hockey and if things arise I have to answer, I’ll answer at that time.

“But I’m not answering hypotheticals, things outside of the hockey range.”

There has been little, to no, reaction within the NHL to the controversy surrounding the NFL and NBA regarding athletes taking a knee when the anthem is played, bring to light social and racial injustice.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins announced Sunday they will visit the White House to celebrate their victory — unlike the Golden State Warriors in the NBA.

Blashill said he wasn’t focused on what was happening Sunday around the NFL other than the Lions’ crushing loss where a potential winning TD was overruled on replay.

Hockey been considered the most conservative of sports, focusing more on the “team” rather than individual views or opinions.

“For me, I can’t answer that,” Blashill said. “I don’t know. I don’t know how it affects the political landscape. I know that hockey, I’m not comparing, I haven’t been around other sports.

“I know hockey players know that you win only as a team. I know that for sure. Other than that, I couldn’t say.”

Defenseman Trevor Daley, one of the small percentage of black players in the league, said he hasn’t thought much about the protests.

“I haven’t really paid enough attention to it to really comment on it,” said Daley, who is a Canadian citizen. “Everybody is entitled to their own voice.

“It’s something I never really got into, is the politics stuff. I like to play hockey. I’m good at that. I try to stick to what I’m good at.”

Daley said he’d like to see more diversity in the NHL and believes it is on its way.

“You look around the league, it’s coming,” Daley said. “You look at the some of the young kids, I wish there was more diversity. But it’s not far away.”
Daley attended the Penguins’ visit to the White House last year but isn’t sure he’ll attend this year, much of it being dependent on what the Red Wings’ schedule.

The date of the Penguins' visit to the White House has not been set.

Rasmussen impressive

Blashill had June’s first-round draft pick, center Michael Rasmussen, between wingers Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist in Monday’s exhibition game against Pittsburgh.

Rasmussen (6-foot-6, 221-pounds) has been impressive during the prospects tournament and training camp, with his hands and size.

“It gives us a chance to see a real high (draft) pick play with two talented players,” said Blashill of his decision to play Rasmussen on the top line. “He (Rasmussen) was real good in Chicago (last week), one of our best forwards. (He’s shown) some real high-end skill.”