Team USA hockey coach says he’ll bench any player who sits for anthem

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File photo: John Tortorella, then the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, hollers at the Edmonton Oilers bench during their game at Rogers Arena on October 5, 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Conn. — With the World Cup of Hockey just weeks away, Team USA’s coach has made his position clear on whether players should stand for the national anthem.

When asked by ESPN’s Linda Cohn what his response would be if a player did not stand for the anthem, coach John Tortorella said, “If any of my players sit on the bench for the national anthem, they will sit there for the rest of the game.”

Tortorella’s comments came in the wake of an ongoing controversy surrounding San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sat or kneeled for the anthem during the NFL preseason. Kaepernick, who is biracial, said he was protesting what he sees as racial injustice against minorities in America.

Other athletes have offered their support for Kaepernick; on Sunday, soccer star Megan Rapinoe kneeled for the anthem before a game in Chicago.

“It’s the least I can do. Keep the conversation going,” Rapinoe tweeted then.

Tortorella, 58, has a reputation for being brash and outspoken. While head coach of the New York Rangers in 2012, the Boston native was fined 30,000 dollars for insinuating the Winter Classic, the NHL’s annual outdoor game on New Year’s Day, was rigged to force overtime.

He is currently the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The World Cup of Hockey begins Sept. 17. Patrick Kane is the lone representative of the Chicago Blackhawks for the American team.