After being accused of using a racial slur in a game against Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, who is black, Florida Panthers forward Krys Barch was suspended for one game. I personally feel as though the one-game ban is a fair punishment.
George Richards of the Miami Herald reports that Barch was given the suspension on Thursday morning on a conference call that also included Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen. Despite the discipline, the Panthers enforcer maintains that what he said wasn't meant as a racial slur.
'I stated my case; I know myself and what I said. It may have been inappropriate but it was nowhere near a racial slur nor that intent,' Barch said after Florida’s morning practice at Chelsea Piers. 'The things I said were pretty explicit and maybe not for kids’ ears, so that’s why I can’t repeat it. My grandma wouldn’t want to hear it, let’s put it that way.'
Whatever Barch said earned him a 10-minute and game misconduct penalty, so the officials certainly thought he crossed a line.
While only Barch and some of those on the ice at the time may truly know what he said, Richards says that sources are reporting that Barch asked Subban if he "slipped on a banana peel" when he fell to the ice after being punched by rookie defenseman Erik Gudbranson.
That may seem racial in nature due to the fact that Subban is black and because of a preseason incident that saw a fan throw a banana peel on the ice to mock Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. At the same time, though, slipping on a banana peel is a metaphor many use when somebody falls down clumsily.
If that is, in fact, what Barch said, it would be irresponsible to suspend him for more than one game. I don't want to totally discount that Barch might have made that comment with the purpose of attacking Subban's race, but I feel like it was more of an unfortunate coincidence.
Whatever the case, some sort of suspension is still warranted because Barch needs to be more mindful of what he's saying. I understand that not everybody thinks things through in the heat of the moment, but Barch and every NHL player has a responsibility to conduct themselves in a professional manner.
According to the article, Barch was told by NHL vice president Colin Campbell that he would have received a suspension between five and 10 games if it was deemed that he did utter a racial slur.
I think the NHL made the right move in not overreacting to the incident. It doesn't seem as if anybody corroborated the notion that what Barch said was a racial slur, including Subban, who didn't even hear what was said. Bringing the hammer down on Barch would have given him the label of a racist, and that isn't something that should be done unless there is 100 percent certainty.
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