Four Chicago Blackhawks fans were ejected from the United Center on Saturday night after directing racist taunts at Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
A Capitals spokesman told The Washington Post’s Isabelle Khurshudyan that the four fans chanted “Basketball, basketball, basketball” at Smith-Pelly while he was in the penalty box during the third period.
Fans next to the penalty box said "basketball, basketball, basketball" to Smith-Pelly when he was in the penalty box, according to a Caps spokesman. DSP was understandably upset. The off-ice official confirmed what happened and the fans were booted. That's the holdup for Trotz.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 18, 2018
After the game, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz called the incident “disgusting,” and said, “There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or in our country for racism.”
Trotz added that Devante Smith-Pelly “was a little bit upset.”
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or in our country for racism.” — #Caps Coach Barry Trotz on an incident involving Devante Smith-Pelly on Saturday in Chicago. Four fans were ejected for taunting DSP when he was in penalty box. pic.twitter.com/kxn3uClSBY
— Tarik El-Bashir⌨️?? (@TarikNBCS) February 18, 2018
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism. I think it’s disgusting, and there’s no place for it. Athletes in our country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”
The Blackhawks released a statement after the game, saying that they “immediately removed” the fans and “apologize to Smith-Pelly and the Washington Capitals organization.”
Statement from Blackhawks: pic.twitter.com/F135dp29Wn
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 18, 2018
“We were made aware of an incident at tonight’s game involving a small group of attendees who made harmful comments directed at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly. The fans were immediately removed and we apologize to Smith-Pelly and the Washington Capitals organization. We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for everyone who attends our games and these actions will never be tolerated.”