North Dakota defenseman Jacob Bernard-Docker and forward Jasper Weatherby plan to kneel while the national anthem plays before they begin their 2020-21 schedule Wednesday.
"We believe racial injustices and the (poor) treatment of minorities and people of color in this country needs to stop, and it needs to be improved all over America and all over the world," Weatherby told the Grand Forks Herald's Brad Elliott Schlossman. "For us, being able to have a platform in a place where there aren't a lot of people of color in hockey or in Grand Forks, it's a really interesting position for us to be in. It's a great platform."
The players made a point of declaring their intentions prior to kneeling so their message is clear, according to Schlossman.
Weatherby expects some people to disapprove, but that won't deter them from doing it.
"I think change is uncomfortable for a lot of people," he added. "If this (demonstration) is uncomfortable for you, it's a great opportunity to educate yourself and look inside and ask yourself, 'Why does that upset me?' and, 'Why is someone from my hometown doing this?' We hope the hockey community knows that we stand with people of color and we are not OK with the way people are being treated in this country."
Bernard-Docker emphasized his ties to the military and said kneeling is, in fact, a way of showing solidarity.
"I have the utmost respect for the military and people who have served," he said. "I have no disrespect to veterans. I have two grandpas who fought in world wars. They have passed away now. But I have no doubt they would support what I'm fighting for, which is the right to be treated equally. People fought for our country so citizens could have fundamental rights. This is what the military fought for."
Weatherby said they currently plan to kneel only before Wednesday's game.
Both players are entering their junior seasons and are assistant captains for the Fighting Hawks. Bernard-Docker is an Ottawa Senators prospect, and the NHL club selected him 26th overall in the 2018 draft. The San Jose Sharks chose Weatherby in the fourth round that same year.
North Dakota will open its NCHC schedule against the Ohio-based Miami University on Wednesday at 4:35 p.m. ET.
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