BOSTON In a sad postscript to the dramatic Bruins-Capitals series, there are multiple reports that dozens of upset fans tweeted racial slurs against Joel Ward, the forward who last night scored the series-winning goal for the Caps. Ward is black.
Speaking to USA Today, Ward said the slurs were “shocking to see, but it didn’t ruin my day.”
“I think it is just kids,” Ward added to USA Today. “It has no effect on me whatsoever. I’ve been playing this game long enough and I’ve not had any encounters of that nature.”
BostInno reports that many of the handles that sent out the tweets “have already been removed or deleted.”
Speaking to Toronto’s Globe and Mail, Ward’s Boston-based attorney, Peter Cooney, called the tweets “appalling,” but said he doesn’t think they represent Bruins fans.
The Bruins released a statement condemning the tweets:
The Bruins are very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night. These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization.
It’s about time that the NHL tackled its race issues head-on. If the league wants to move forward as a brand, they need to recognize that they can do something about racism.
And here is ESPN’s Bill Simmons, who’s originally from Massachusetts, offering his thoughts:
Last note: After the game abruptly ended, a few idiot Bruins fans tweeted racial slurs because Ward (an African-Canadian) scored the game-winning goal. Those morons don’t reflect on the city of Boston, but rather the Internet itself — an occasionally unseemly place with little accountability that willingly courts hateful morons from every corner of the world. …
Update at 4:30 p.m.: Reporting for NPR’s Two-Way Blog, Korva Coleman adds this detail:
… it’s likely some of the commenters don’t know about the Bruins’ place in civil rights history. In 1957, Boston was the first NHL team to call up a black player: Willie O’Ree, who, like Joel Ward, is from Canada.
Coleman also links to NPR’s interview with O’Ree about breaking pro hockey’s color barrier.