It was only a matter of time, that the maelstrom of reaction from all sides today, crossed with some very stern words from GLAAD, caused a lengthy response from the National Hockey League.
NHL discipline czar Emeritus, Colin Campbell, issued a statement this evening regarding an incident during Monday night’s preseason contest between Rangers forward Sean Avery (Caucasian-Canadian) and Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (African-Canadian).
Allegedly, anti-gay and racial slurs were exchanged in heated discussions
between both players.
Campbell’s statement said the league has looked into the allegations but has
not been able to substantiate what was said and by whom. His statement reported that Simmonds “expressly” denied using the homophobic slur he’s alleged to have said, and none of the on-ice officials close to the altercations heard what was supposedly uttered.
Ultimately, Campbell said, the league is unable to take disciplinary action because of the lack of firm information, but reserves the right to revisit the issue.
“All players, coaches and officials in the National Hockey League deserve the
respect of their peers, and have the absolute right to function in a work
environment that is free from racially or sexually based innuendo or
derision,” the statement, issued Tuesday, said. “This is the National Hockey
League’s policy and it will remain so going forward.
“It also is important to emphasize that the National Hockey League holds, and
will continue to hold, our players to higher standards with respect to their
conduct both on and off the ice. While we recognize that the emotion involved
in certain on-ice confrontations may lead to the use of highly charged and
sometimes offensive language and commentary, certain lines cannot be crossed.
Specifically, we have for many years emphasized to our clubs and players that
commentary directed at the race or ethnicity of other participants in the game
(or even non-participants), or that is otherwise socially or morally
inappropriate or potentially hurtful — including as it may relate to sexual
orientation — is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
You can find the full release here.
The Flyers won the game by a 5-3 count. Compounding the drama surrounding the issue is that these perennial rivals do not meet again until
November 26 at Madison Square Garden.