NHLer Logan Couture says he was ‘punched’ for mentioning Trump in Toronto

San Jose Sharks centre Logan Couture skates during the first period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture claims someone “sucker punched” him in Toronto after he spoke up about voting for the Republican Party and mentioned its leader, U.S. President Donald Trump, on Tuesday night.

“I talked about voting for the Republican Party, and I mentioned Donald Trump by name. I was sucker punched,” Couture claimed in a tweet on Wednesday morning. “Is this really what we are coming to? If you vote you are a villain? Man this world is so wrong.”

He added in followup tweets that he doesn’t vote.

“I mentioned my father being a former police officer,” he wrote. “I ‘would‘ if I could vote Republican.”

It’s unclear where or if the alleged sucker punch happened, or if any witnesses were present to corroborate Couture’s story. The Toronto Police Service did not have any information to share about the allegations. Couture declined to offer further comment to Kevin Kurz, a Sharks beat writer for The Athletic.

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Couture plays hockey in California but he was born in Guelph, Ont., and grew up near London, which is about two hours west of Toronto. His Sharks were not part of the NHL’s expanded 24-team post-season, so he would not have been inside the league’s playoff “bubble” in Toronto.

Couture’s father, Chet, was a Guelph police officer for eight years before joining the London Fire Department in 1990, his LinkedIn page shows. He retired last year after 30 years of service.

The NHLer’s original tweet triggered a flurry of responses from across the political spectrum on Wednesday morning.

“Assault is all too normal for liberals these days,” TJ Lang, a former NFL player, wrote in response to Couture. “And they’ve convinced themselves that it’s an appropriate action. Sorry you got punched bro.”

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Critics accused Couture of hypocrisy for backing the GOP in light of Trump, who has frequently described Black Lives Matter protesters as “rioters” and “anarchists.”

One of Couture’s teammates, Evander Kane, is among the few Black players in a predominantly white league. Kane joined many Black current and former players earlier this year to denounce anti-Black racism and call for equality in hockey and society in general.

Couture put out a statement supporting Kane at the time.

“I think most of us have been at fault for turning a blind eye when it comes to racism. It cannot continue,” he wrote in the statement. “We need to love each other regardless of skin colour.”

Read more: Players form Hockey Diversity Alliance to combat racism

On Wednesday, Couture blasted Sportsnet host Tara Slone for liking a tweet featuring his past statement. The tweet simply read “This you?” and was not written by Slone.

“Are you serious @TaraSlone?” Couture wrote in response to the tweet. “I don’t vote, I never said I like Donald Trump. I don’t. Last time I do anything for Sportsnet.”

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Many quickly rallied to Slone’s defence after she hinted that she hadn’t said anything to Couture.

“For the record, this is my first tweet of the day,” she wrote.

“This is what you have to expect in these times,” user Ben Handleman wrote in a tweet to Couture. “People jump to conclusions and immediately assume the worst. That goes double for you considering you are a notable athlete. That being said, the reason the world has come to this is because of the Republican Party.”

“Thank you for this,” Couture, 31, wrote in response. “I am completely wrong for going public with my political views. I understand now. This world is at its tipping point. A wise man once said nothing at all, that’s how we should all go about our business. I love my fans, haters as well!”

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Most NHLers have avoided some of the gestures of protest seen in the NFL and NBA in recent years, such as kneeling or raising a fist during the U.S. anthem.

Click to play video: 'Canadian NHL player Matt Dumba becomes 1st to take knee during U.S. anthem' Canadian NHL player Matt Dumba becomes 1st to take knee during U.S. anthem
Canadian NHL player Matt Dumba becomes 1st to take knee during U.S. anthem – Aug 1, 2020

Every Stanley Cup-winning team has paid a visit to the White House during Trump’s term, unlike some champions from other sports.

U.S. citizens vote directly for the person they want to be president, and not for his or her party. Couture is not eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election on Nov. 3.

Global News reached out to Couture for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.

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