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Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban chases the puck during the third period in an NHL hockey preseason game against the Florida Panthers in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2017.

Mark Humphrey/AP

Star Nashville Predators defenceman P.K. Subban says he will not join athletes who kneel or otherwise protest during the U.S. national anthem.

Yahoo Sports first reported Subban's comments, which were confirmed by the team in an email to The Canadian Press.

According to the Yahoo report, Subban said during a benefit at a comedy club in Nashville, Tenn., that he would "never" kneel for "The Star-Spangled Banner" because he has too much respect for the American flag. Subban's comments were sent to Yahoo by witnesses.

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Subban, who is Canadian, is considered one of the NHL's most prominent and popular stars and is a black player in a predominantly white league.

Protesting during the U.S. anthem before NFL games has become a divisive issue in the United States. The movement started last year with then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick refusing to stand for the pre-game anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality in the U.S.

The movement gained momentum among athletes last week when President Donald Trump tore into protesting NFL players, calling them "sons of bitches" who should be fired. Over 200 players protested in various ways during the anthem before last week's NFL games.

The NHL has been left out of Trump's fiery rhetoric that has engulfed the NFL and NBA. On Sunday, the Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins announced that they had accepted an invitation to visit the White House hours after Trump rescinded a invitation to NBA-champion Golden State. The Warriors were uninvited after star guard Stephen Curry said he wouldn't attend.

Toronto Raptors' media day was full of questions about U.S. President Donald Trump saying NFL owners should fire players who kneel in protest during the U.S. national anthem. Dozens of NFL players knelt during the anthem (while other players linked arms) following Colin Kaepernick's earlier protest against police brutality and racism.
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