Blackhawks Ban Fans Who Made Racist Taunts Toward Devante Smith-Pelly

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 19, 2018

Washington Capitals right wing Devante Smith-Pelly (25) argues with Chicago Blackhawks fans from the penalty box during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 7-1. (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

The Chicago Blackhawks permanently banned the fans who were ejected from the United Center for directing racist comments toward Washington Capitals right-winger Devante Smith-Pelly during Saturday's game.

Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reported the news Monday, noting a team spokesperson said, "Racist comments and other inappropriate behavior are not tolerated by the Chicago Blackhawks."

According to ESPN.com, four fans were ejected from the game because of the racist comments.

The Blackhawks apologized to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals when they released a statement following the contest:

Chicago Blackhawks @NHLBlackhawks

Statement on the incident at tonight's game https://t.co/7o02AaLQwz

The ESPN.com report cited a Capitals spokesperson who said the fans were chanting "basketball, basketball, basketball" at Smith-Pelly.

The forward was upset in the penalty box and expressed his disgust after the game.

"It's disgusting," he said, per ESPN.com. "It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing, over and over. It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression but we're still working toward it, I guess, and we're going to keep working toward it."

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement in response to the incident:

"Last night in Chicago, individuals directed racial taunts and abuse at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly. 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."

On the ice, the Blackhawks won the game 7-1 and snapped an eight-game losing streak.

The two teams completed a trade Monday, as Washington announced it acquired defenseman Michael Kempny from Chicago in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2018 draft.


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