Ward, a right winger for the San Jose Sharks of the NHL, posted a lengthy statement to his Twitter account on Thursday after days of speculation about whether or not he may take a knee in solidarity with NFL players protesting social injustices. Ward is one of roughly 30 black players in the National Hockey League.
"As a black man, I have experienced racism both inside and outside of the sporting world," Ward wrote. "Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of color are treated differently on a day-to-day basis."
Joel Ward throughout his career
Joel Ward throughout his career
SAINT PAUL, MN - DECEMBER 19: Joel Ward #27 of the Minnesota Wild skates against the Vancouver Canucks during the game at Xcel Energy Center on December 19, 2006 in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The Wild won 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images)
ST. PAUL, MN - SEPTEMBER 15: Joel Ward of the Minnesota Wild poses for a portrait on September 15, 2003 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by: Getty Images)
DALLAS - FEBRUARY 6: Joel Ward #27 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during the game against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center February 6, 2007 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 11: Right wing Joel Ward #29 of the Nashville Predators skates on October 11, 2008 at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee.(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 14: Joel Ward #29 of the Nashville Predators celebrates a goal in the third period as goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere #35 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on at the Honda Center on November 14, 2008 in Anaheim, California. The Predators defeated the Ducks 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Nashville Predators right wing Joel Ward celebrates his goal on the Vancouver Canucks during the third period in Game 5 of their NHL Western Conference semi-final hockey playoff game in Vancouver, British Columbia May 7, 2011. REUTERS/Ben Nelms (CANADA - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Washington Capitals winger Joel Ward is all smiles during a team practice in Arlington, Virginia, April 27, 2012. Ward scored the winning overtime goal on Wednesday as the Capitals defeated the Stanley Cup champions Boston Bruins. The Capitals now face the New York Rangers in the next round of the NHL playoffs. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT ICE HOCKEY)
Mar 14, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward (42) passes the puck as Vancouver Canucks left wing Alex Burrows (14) defends in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 25, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates his goal against the Calgary Flames during the second period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 17, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Andre Burakovsky (left) and Capitals right wing Joel Ward (right) celebrate a goal by left wing Alex Ovechkin (middle) against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates on the ice after the Capitals' game against the New York Islanders in game seven of the first round of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 2-1, and won the series 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 10, 2015; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates scoring against the New York Islanders in the 2nd period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports.
Mar 15, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates scoring against the Boston Bruins in the 3rd period at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports. The Sharks won 3-2.
Jun 4, 2016; San Jose, CA, USA; San Jose Sharks right wing Joel Ward (42) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period of game three of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final at SAP Center at San Jose. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
SAN JOSE, CA - MARCH 11: Joel Ward #42 of the San Jose Sharks looks during a NHL game against the Nashville Predators at SAP Center at San Jose on March 11, 2017 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Scott Dinn/NHLI via Getty Images)
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The hockey player, whose parents are immigrants to Canada from Barbados, has been long outspoken about racial equality within the league. In 2016, Ward spoke to ESPN, advocating for the league-wide retirement of number 22, which was worn by Willie O'Ree, the first black player in NHL history.
While San Jose coach Pete DeBoer said he would support Ward should he elect to kneel for the anthem, the right winger has made his decision clear.
"Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues," his statement continued, "I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done."
The sporting world saw an uptick in athletes taking a knee for the Star-Spangled Banner last weekend after President Donald Trump criticized NFL players for doing so, saying those who kneel should be fired.
The president also made waves when he retracted an invitation for the Golden State Warriors of the NBA to visit the White House after star Stephen Curry said he would not go, but he made it clear that the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins are still invited.