Joel Ward will not kneel for the American national anthem when the NHL season gets underway next week.

The San Jose Sharks forward made the announcement via Twitter on Thursday, two days after he told The Mercury News that he wouldn't rule out the protest.

"Although I fully support those who before me have taken the lead in bringing awareness to these issues, I will not kneel during the national anthem like my brothers have done," said Ward.

Numerous NFL players took a knee Sunday to protest racial inequality and police brutality against minorities in the United States after President Donald Trump said at a rally in Alabama on Friday that players who kneel for the anthem should be fired. 

Ward, a Toronto native, said he has "immense respect" for the players that have protested peacefully, but the feels the original issue has been lost.

"I hold an immense amount of respect for the many players - across the sporting world - that have chosen to peacefully bring attention to a couple of big issues in today's society, which are inequality and the use of excessive force against people of colour in the United States of America. Make no mistake that racism exists and that people of colour are treated differently on a day-to-day basis," Ward said in the statement.

"I also feel that the original message that was trying to be communicated has been lost. The focus has shifted to the act of the kneeling itself or to a protest of the flag or the military. What are we really talking about here?"