The coach of Team USA for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey says he will bench any player who doesn't stand during the U.S. National Anthem.
In an interview with ESPN, John Tortorella on Tuesday said, "If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there the rest of the game."
Tortorella's comments received some backlash on social media. But on Wednesday, Tortorella refused to back off on his comments.
"I'll tell you right now. Try to understand me. I'm not criticizing anybody for stepping up and putting their thoughts out there about things. I'm the furthest thing away from being anything political. No chance I'm involved in that stuff," he said.
Tortorella has a son deployed in Afghanistan for the third time in the U.S. Army Special Forces, according to ESPN.
"Listen," he told reporters. "We're in a great country because we can express ourselves. And I am not against expressing yourselves. That's what's great about our country. We can do that. But when there are men and women that give their lives for their flag, for their anthem, have given their lives, continue to put themselves on the line with our services for our flag, for our anthem, families that have been disrupted, traumatic physical injuries, traumatic mental injuries for these people that give us the opportunity to do the things we want to do, there's no chance an anthem and a flag should come into any type of situation where you're trying to make a point.
It is probably the most disrespectful thing you can do as a U.S. citizen is to bring that in. Because that's our symbol. All for (expressing) yourself. That's what's so great. Everybody does. But no chance when it comes to the flag and the anthem. No chance."
This comes in the wake of controversy started by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kapernick who sat during the national anthem at a preseason game in protest of racial inequality in the U.S.
Earlier this week, Doug Baldwin said he’s considering sitting during the national anthem before the Seattle Seahawks’ game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday – and more players might join him.
“Our locker room has discussed it, so we’ll see,” Baldwin said during a press conference on Wednesday.
Baldwin said he’s still weighing whether to join teammate Jeremy Lane and other players around the NFL in sitting out the anthem.