The fans were ejected after reportedly making racist comments at Smith-Pelly, who is black.
Devante Smith-Pelly getting fed up with the fans next the the penalty box chanting at him pic.twitter.com/AeYMcQrnyj
Per the Washington Post‘s Isabelle Khurshudyan, the group was saying “basketball, basketball, basketball,” at Smith-Pelly, who is black. A group of four, per Khurshudyan, were kicked out of the game after the off-ice official confirmed what the fans were saying.
Fans next to the penalty box said “basketball, basketball, basketball” to Smith-Pelly when he was in the penalty box, according to a Caps spokesman. DSP was understandably upset. The off-ice official confirmed what happened and the fans were booted. That’s the holdup for Trotz.
The Blackhawks released the following statement after the game, acknowledging the incident:
“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 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 our games and these actions will never be tolerated.”
Statement on the incident at tonight’s game pic.twitter.com/7o02AaLQwz
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism and I think it’s disgusting. There’s no place for it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said postgame.
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or in our country for racism.” — #Caps Coach Barry Trotz on an incident involving Devante Smith-Pelly on Saturday in Chicago. Four fans were ejected for taunting DSP when he was in penalty box. pic.twitter.com/kxn3uClSBY
NBC Sports Washington’s Tarik El-Bashir reported Smith-Pelly would likely “address the situation at the next media availability.”
February is “Hockey is for Everyone” month in the NHL, and the incident occurred during a 7-1 Blackhawks win.
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