The American Hockey League has suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik 30 games for a racist gesture directed at Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners.
Hrabik made a monkey gesture at Imama, who is Black, during Tucson’s 4-3 win on Jan. 12. The league was notified by members of the Roadrunners’ staff and the incident was confirmed via video. The following day, the Barracuda were told what happened and the team removed Hrabik from all team activities while an investigation took place.
Since Hrabik has served three games of the suspension, he can return to the Barracuda lineup on April 3. He is eligible to apply for early reinstatement on March 12 “pending an evaluation of his progress in training provided by the NHL Player Inclusion Committee.”
“The AHL believes that individual inclusion learning is a key element of improving league-wide culture,” said the league’s statement on the suspension. “As such, as part of his suspension, Hrabik will be provided the opportunity to work with the National Hockey League’s Player Inclusion Committee to participate in education and training on racism and inclusion.”
Statement from the San Jose Barracuda and San Jose Sharks Organizations pic.twitter.com/0lYaLuDbUl
— San Jose Barracuda (@sjbarracuda) January 21, 2022
Here is Imama’s response on Twitter:
Enough is enough! pic.twitter.com/bETzUXEPGo
— Boko Imama (@bokojr) January 22, 2022
Hrabik released this statement:
“I am ashamed of today’s events and embarrassed by the actions that led to my suspension. I want everyone to know that I’m very sorry for what has occurred and I take full responsibility for my actions,” said Hrabik. “People should know that I had absolutely no inappropriate intent.
“The gesture was made in the heat of battle and while I didn’t mean anything racist by what I did, I realize now through my own ignorance how my gesture could be interpreted.”
This is the second time in three seasons that Imama has been subjected to racist behavior from an opponent. In Jan. 2020, the AHL suspended Brandon Manning five games for directing a racial slur at Imama, who was then playing for the Ontario Reign. When Manning’s Bakersfield Condors played the Reign weeks later, the two dropped the gloves.
“The AHL stands with Boko Imama,” said AHL President Scott Howson. “It is unfair that any player should be subjected to comments or gestures based on their race; they should be judged only on their ability to perform as a player on the ice, as a teammate in the locker room and as a member of their community.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.