A year after Phoenix forward Raffi Torres came under heavy scrutiny for dressing as Jay-Z, another NHLer is facing a similar storm of controversy.
Late Tuesday night, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak posted a picture of his Halloween costume — Michael Jackson — and was immediately met with criticism for dressing in blackface.
The picture in question:
Bozak pulled the picture shortly after tweeting it, but defended his actions in a subsequent tweet.
“That’s a tribute to one of my fave artists,” he wrote. “For anyone saying its racist is crazy!”
Last October, Torres faced similar condemnation after he and his wife attended a Halloween party dressed as Jay-Z and Beyonce.
The photo was tweeted by Coyotes teammate Paul Bisonette and opened Torres up to harsh criticisms, with two prominent journalists — Bruce Arthur of the National Post and Bill Platschke of the Los Angeles Times — penning columns about the ramifications of wearing blackface.
The negative response to Torres’ costume was enough for the Phoenix organization to issue a statement defending him.
“There was absolutely nothing racist about Raffi and his wife’s costumes,” the statement read. “Raffi is a huge fan of Jay-Z and his wife loves Beyonce. It was a Halloween party. The fact that this was reported is ridiculous. We will have no further comment.”
At the time of writing, the Maple Leafs have not issued a statement on the Bozak situation.