J.T. Brown is retiring from professional hockey and joining the expansion Seattle Kraken as a television analyst, the team confirmed on Monday.
Brown, 30, played seven years in the NHL from 2011 to 2019 with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, for a total of 365 games. He played last season with IF Bjorkloven in the Swedish Hockey League.
“It was a big decision to hang up my skates, but one that was made easier by the opportunity to work alongside [announcer] John Forslund for the Seattle Kraken,” Brown said.
Brown gained fame during his playing career as one of the NHL’s early adopters of video game streaming, with a Twitch channel that has close to 10,000 followers. He also made headlines in October 2017 when he raised his right fist during the playing of the national anthem in the Lightning’s first road game of the season — the first known demonstration of any kind during the anthem in an NHL regular-season game. Brown, who cleared the demonstration against racial inequality with his team, said he received death threats afterward.
“The urgency for social change does not cease as the roars from protests fade and disappear from our timelines. So whether you use your hands for giving donations, volunteering, holding signs as you march in a protest, being vocal online, or raising a fist in solidarity, we all have a responsibility to fight for equality. History cannot continue to repeat itself,” said Brown, in an NHL.com essay in 2020.
Brown joins a broadcast team that includes Forslund, previously the play-by-play voice of the Carolina Hurricanes and a national broadcaster for NBC Sports; and Everett Fitzhugh, who became the NHL’s first Black team broadcaster when he was hired as the Kraken’s radio play-by-play announcer in 2020.
“I am excited for the opportunity to continue my career within the hockey world and to join an organization that is dedicated to making forward progress within the sport, and I look forward to the ability to make a lasting impact on the game I’ve loved for over 25 years,” Brown said.
The Kraken, the NHL’s 32nd franchise, will begin play in the 2021-22 season.
“We are excited to welcome JT Brown to the Seattle Kraken,” Kraken CEO Tod Leiweke said in a statement. “His experience as a player winning a National Championship with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and playing in the Stanley Cup Final for the Tampa Bay Lightning gives him unique insight into what it takes to compete night in and night out at the highest levels of hockey. Off the ice, JT’s values and dedication to the community reflect our own and we know he will be a great addition.”