Devante Smith-Pelly

Saturday night’s Washington Capitals – Chicago Blackhawks game saw four Chicago fans ejected from the United Center after heckling Capitals’ forward Devante Smith-Pelly (who is black) with “basketball, basketball” chants. Washington coach Barry Trotz went in on the fans after the game, saying “There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or in our country for racism” and calling the incident “disgusting,” and Smith-Pelly responded himself Sunday with some strong comments. Here’s the video from the Capitals’ Twitter account:

Some key remarks there:

“It’s pretty obvious what that means. It’s not really a secret. It’s just one word, I mean that’s all it takes. Whether it’s that word or any other word. We got the idea. Or I got the idea. And I’m sure they got the idea too. Just one word and I guess that’s really all it takes.”

“…Yeah, it’s disgusting. I don’t even really know. It’s sad that in 2018 we’re still talking about the same thing over and over. It’s sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago, were standing in the same spot, saying the same thing. You’d think that there’d be some sort of change or progression, but we’re still working towards it I guess. We’re going to keep working towards it.

Smith-Pelly also said that he’s previously heard racially-charged comments but shrugged them off. He’s changing that response now, though.

“We’re at a time now, we can’t brush it under the rug. You’ve got to start calling people out and making sure people see other people’s true colors. So, that’s what I’m trying, to get the conversation started, and show whoever these people were their true colors.”

The Blackhawks condemned the incident, as did the Capitals and the NHL. But this is far from the first incident of racist behavior towards black hockey players. We’ll see if things start to change.

[For The Win]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.