CHICAGO — A visiting black player was taunted by four male fans shouting “basketball, basketball, basketball” Saturday night during the Chicago Blackhawks‘ game against the Washington Capitals.
Washington‘s Devante Smith-Pelly was serving a major penalty for fighting Chicago‘s Connor Murphy when the fans taunted him in the penalty box. An off-ice official sitting next to him notified building security, and the fans were ejected.
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“We were made aware of an incident at tonight‘s game involving a small group of attendees who made harmful comments directed at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly,” the Blackhawks said in a statement.
“The fans were immediately removed and we apologize to Smith-Pelly and the Washington Capitals organization. We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for everyone who attends out games and these actions will never be tolerated,” the statement said.
Smith-Pelly wasn‘t available for comment. Coach Barry Trotz said the player was “a little upset.”
“There‘s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said. “I think it‘s disgusting.”
The 25-year-old Smith-Pelly is in his first season with the Capitals. He also has played for Anaheim, Montreal and New Jersey.