Fans removed from game for remarks aimed at black National Hockey League player

21 February, 2018, 09:55 | Author: Tracy Craig
  • Washington Capitals v New Jersey Devils

"If they were Blackhawks fans they would know there's a black player on their team". Just because I'm a professional hockey player: they just don't understand.

Smith-Pelly, who is African-American, was subjected to racist taunts by four male fans on Saturday at Chicago's United Center while he served a penalty for fighting.

The winger said Saturday's incident is a reason why conversations about race need to continue. United Center ushers removed four fans from the game after the incident. In 2017 he told the Toronto Star that he had been told to "go back to playing basketball" in the past by a fan.

Racist fans are in every sport, but the National Hockey League, which has just 30 Black players, has a persistent problem.

"It was a little different from the night before in Minnesota where that guy was just joking around I guess and didn't really cross the line", Smith-Pelly said. So it's really lonely in that sense.

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"It's a huge bummer and something that you really don't want to see - and that's putting it in the polite fashion", Washington forward Tom Wilson said. Granted, racism has been around for about as long as humans have populated the earth. Not only does it still clearly exist, but it's right out in the open for everyone to see if you have the eyes for it.

He further stated, "You would think there'd be some change after some years especially when we came out with the ad 'Hockey is for Everyone, '" he said. He wasn't called the N-word. The player in question is black, so the racial implication is obvious. It was on full display in 2012 when scores of angry Boston Bruins fans used racial slurs on social media toward Joel Ward after a loss in the playoffs. And that's a damn shame. "There's no room for it. Let's get rid of some of the ignorance". It's just a few ignorant people being idiots, that's it. ... Yet, there are still people walking around Chicago with this prejudiced attitude.

"It makes you feel pretty sick that people out there are still feeling that way, and I think society has to do a job of changing that". Empathy and understanding are powerful things.

Joining the Capitals on their road trip, which concludes at Buffalo on Monday, are players' fathers, allowing Smith-Pelly an opportunity to discuss what happened with his dad.

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