Hockey fans ejected after what they yelled at a player


Every time we like to think that sports is the one place where racism doesn’t exist, something like Saturday night’s incident at the Blackhawks/Capitals game.

Four Chicago fans were ejected after making racially charged comments directed at Washington forward Devante Smith-Pelly, one of fewer than 30 black players in the NHL.

Smith-Pelly was sitting in the penalty box after a fight with Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy when some fans began chanting “basketball, basketball, basketball,” suggesting that he should be playing that sport instead of hockey.

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Caps coach Barry Trotz was disgusted by what his player had to deal with.

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“There is absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting. There’s no place for it. Athletes in our country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”

The Blackhawks issued a statement, apologizing to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals.

Saturday’s incident came during the NHL’s “Hockey is for Everyone” month, designed to use the game “to drive social change and foster more inclusive communities.”

There are currently fewer than 30 black players in league, and Smith-Pelly has dealt with overt racism since he started playing hockey.

In an interview last year with the Toronto Star, he talked about participating in a rookie tournament and hearing a fan yell, “Go back to playing basketball.”

“I can’t go to anyone on my team and have them understand really how it is to be in my shoes,” Smith-Pelly said. “Just because I’m a professional hockey player; they just don’t understand. So it’s really lonely in that sense. You don’t really have anyone.”

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Last month, the NHL celebrated the 60th anniversary of Boston’s Willie O’Ree breaking the color barrier.

The Blackhawks won the game 7-1, but the NHL suffered an even bigger loss of dignity.

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Mike is an 11-time Michigan Emmy Award winner who has spent nearly 30 years working in sports media.
Mike has spent nearly 30 years in all aspects of sports media, including on-air, 10 at ESPN and another 10 at Fox Sports Detroit. He now works as a TV agent, and lives with his family in West Bloomfield, MI.
Sudbury, Massachusetts
11-time Michigan Emmy winner
Emerson College
Books Written
The Longest Year: One Family's Journey Of Life, Death, And Love/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Tigers/If These Walls Could Talk: Detroit Lions
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