Andrew Shaw Apologizes for Use of Gay Slur During Game 4 vs. Blues

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2016

Chicago Blackhawks center Andrew Shaw (65) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw appeared to use a gay slur near the end of his team's 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday.

Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reported the NHL is investigating the incident, and Shaw and the organization issued statements on Wednesday. Per Tracey Myers of CSN Chicago, Shaw said the following:

I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box. When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances. I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful, and I will learn from my mistake.

Myers also shared the Blackhawks' statement:

We are extremely disappointed in [Shaw's] actions last night. His comments do not reflect what we stand for as an organization. We are proud to have an inclusive and respectful environment, and to support various initiatives such as the You Can Play Project and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association. We will use this opportunity to further educate our players and organization moving forward, so that we all may learn from it.

The Blackhawks pointed to their support of the You Can Play Project, which Cam Tucker of NBCSports.com said started in 2012 in order to fight for equality and respect for athletes, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The organization took to Twitter in response to the Shaw incident:

You Can Play Project @YouCanPlayTeam

We are aware of tonight's incident and will be reaching out to the NHL immediately to assist in an appropriate response.

Kuc described the process that led to Shaw's use of theΒ slur. He was penalized for interference late in the loss, directed an obscene gesture at the officials on the way to the penalty box and then screamed at them once he was there.

That is when he appeared to use the slur, as Greg Jonsson of STLToday.com shared in this NSFW highlight:

Greg Jonsson @Jonssonville

Of everyone angry at NHL officials, here's Andrew Shaw #stlblues #blackhawks https://t.co/JyXUQkFtZv

Outside of the insensitive nature of Shaw’s remarks, the actual penalty was particularly costly for the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Blackhawks were trailing by a goal in the final minutes and had to play a man short for a crucial stretch. Even when Chicago eventually pulled goaltender Corey Crawford, it was only playing five-on-five against the Blues without anyone in net.

It was one part of an undisciplined game for the Blackhawks. Crawford came out of the net in the second period and started a fight with Blues forward Robby Fabbri, and the two teams scuffled after the contest was over. Shaw was prominently involved in that scuffle.

Cindy Boren of the Washington Post called for the NHL to suspend Shaw and called it a "no-brainer" decision. She also suggested Shaw should be fined on top of a suspension, pointing to Kobe Bryant being fined by the NBA for using aΒ slur as precedent.

Adam Gretz of CBSSports.com cited past incidents in the NHL for potential precedent cases for a suspension, including when Krys Barch was suspended for directing a racist joke toward P.K. Subban and when James Wisniewski was suspended for two games because of an obscene gesture directed at Sean Avery.

If Shaw is suspended, it will be a blow for a Blackhawks team that is already on the brink of elimination. Chicago is trailing in the series 3-1 and has to hit the road for Thursday's Game 5.

Shaw tallied 34 points this season behind 14 goals and 20 assists and was a critical piece on Chicago's 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup champion teams. He brings plenty of postseason experience and a toughness factor near the middle of the ice that could help the Blackhawks come back in this series.