Washington forward Jason Chimera has agreed to join Czech Extraliga team Pirati Chomutov, according to the team website.
The signing was also confirmed by Chimera’s agent, Alan Walsh.
Fairly or not, eyebrows will be raised given Chimera has agreed to join a team that’s been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately.
During a game on Oct. 28, Chomutov fans rained down racist chants on ex-Liberec forward Wayne Simmonds — “Opice”, which translates to “monkey” in English — and fallout from the incident has been widespread.
Chomutov officials immediately addressed the situation and sent an apology letter to Simmonds condemning the actions, but the club was still fined by the Extraliga.
Then, this week, the story was back in the news.
On the same day Simmonds and Stewart left Liberec, reports surfaced that eight Chomutov fans allegedly involved in the chants had been arrested and charged with “misdemeanor disorderly conduct and defamation of nation, race and other ethnic groups.”
[They attend] games in a black hooded sweatshirt and scarf, imbibing a considerable amount of booze before games. (One of the accused fans, Radek Pribyl, said he had 10 beers and two shots but was only “mildly drunk” because he’s “trained” for that level of consumption.)
Some of the fans claim they joined the “monkey” chants but didn’t start them; others claim they didn’t join them at all.
The prosecution has accused the fans of chanting “‘hu hu hu’, ‘Ku Klux Klan’ and the song ‘Dead Gypsy floating in the river.'” (Rough translation, but that last song is an extremist staple.)
The fans claim the “gypsy” song is an arena standard, aimed at the referees. As for the other chant, Pribyl is quoted by iDNES.cz as saying:
“Ku Klux Klan has always sung to We Will Rock You. Racism has nothing to do [with it].”
Yahoo!’s Nick Cotsonika spoke with Simmonds after the incident. The Flyers winger said nobody from Chomutov told him about the chants — he learned what they meant and learned of the club’s apology letter on the Internet.
The Czechs were embarrassed. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say they had the absolute best intentions. As defenseman Ladislav Smid said then, they didn’t want to make Simmonds feel uncomfortable. But their silence might have made him feel more uncomfortable.
Simmonds later told Smid he should have told him.
On Wednesday, Simmonds’ agent spoke to USA Today about his client’s departure.
“I don’t want to say it didn’t have anything to do [with the racial taunts],” King explained. “But it was a bunch of things that added up.”