The Chicago Blackhawks took action on Monday, banning a few fans from team home games after their involvement in directing racist chants at Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly on Saturday.
In a post on the team’s website, the Blackhawks said they have “contacted the offending individuals and notified them that they are no longer welcome at Blackhawks home games.”
“Racist comments and other inappropriate behavior are not tolerated by the Chicago Blackhawks,” the Blackhawks said in a post.
Four Blackhawks fans were kicked out of Saturday’s game against the Capitals at United Center after racially-charged taunts were made toward Smith-Pelly.
Smith-Pelly, serving a five-minute major for fighting in the third period, got upset with a fan next to him who, according to the Washington Post, was chanting, “Basketball, basketball, basketball,” toward Smith-Pelly, who is black.
On Monday, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville spoke about the incident.
“Totally unacceptable in our game, in any sport and in society,” Quenneville said. “We have to learn from something like that. (It) can’t happen. I talked to (Capitals coach Barry Trotz) yesterday, apologized to the organization and the player, Devante. We’re sorry about what happened and let’s learn from it.”
Anthony Duclair, who is black, also spoke to the media.
“It’s not ok,” Duclair said. “Whether it happens to Devante Smith-Pelly or a random person on the street, you should be comfortable in your own skin and gender and nationality or religion, your beliefs. Everyone’s equal. Everyone should love each other.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on Sunday morning:
“Last night in Chicago, individuals directed racial taunts and abuse at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. “The National Hockey League condemns this unacceptable and reprehensible behavior. The League fully supports the actions taken by the United Center and the Blackhawks to eject the offenders and would expect the same response to any similarly unacceptable behavior at any of our arenas.
“While this incident was isolated in nature, no player, coach, official or fan should ever have to endure such abuse at one of our games. The League will take steps to have our clubs remind all stakeholders that they are entitled to enjoy a positive environment – free from unacceptable, inappropriate, disruptive, inconsiderate or unruly behaviors or actions and may not engage in conduct deemed detrimental to that experience.”
February is Hockey is for Everyone month in the NHL.
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Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck