Saturday, July 21, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning journal: J.T. Brown gets protest support from teammates, other players

TAMPA — Lightning wing J.T. Brown didn't get a chance to perform another silent anthem protest Monday. He wasn't in the lineup, a healthy scratch.

Brown, 27, didn't talk about his protest, either, sticking to his lengthy Twitter statement made Sunday, in which he said he received racist comments and death threats for raising his right fist during the anthem before Saturday's game against the Panthers in Sunrise.

But Brown received support from players around the league, and more important, in the Lightning dressing room.

"The big thing is, we've got 25 different guys in here," said veteran wing Ryan Callahan, who spoke for the team. "Everyone is going to have a different opinion, come from a different background and upbringing. Whether we agree or disagree with what (Brown) is doing, as a team we support him. We support (Brown) on and off the ice. We've got his back."

Brown, one of about 30 black players in the NHL, was the first player in the league to do a silent protest, in an attempt to raise awareness of racial inequality and police brutality. Capitals F Devante Smith-Pelly, who is black, loved it, saying he reached out to Brown on Saturday to tell him how much he respected what Brown did.

Smith-Pelly has considered doing a protest but isn't sure if he will. "I'm proud of (Brown), proud that he did that and proud that he stood up and put himself out there," Smith-Pelly said before the Capitals faced the Lightning. "It's tough any time, but in this particular sport, it's tough to put yourself out there like that. 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 (Capitals') 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 (protesting is) 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."

Meet Ovi

D Mikhail Sergachev said Capitals star Alex Ovechkin was his favorite player growing up in Russia. So Sergachev, 19, was excited to play against the future Hall of Famer on Monday. What did Sergachev admire about Ovechkin?

"He's always hungry for pucks and he wants to score," Sergachev said. "He's a big guy, and he hits. I loved that. I was watching his highlights, and it was only goals and hitting. I didn't care about passing and stuff, so that's why I liked him."

Slap shots

• D Slater Koekkoek made his season debut as the Lightning went with a seven-defensemen alignment for the first time. D Andrej Sustr and F Gabriel Dumont joined Brown as the scratches.

• G Andrei Vasilevskiy started his third game in four nights. Coach Jon Cooper said that was planned. Peter Budaj, expected to start once a week, could play Thursday against the Penguins.

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