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Published: Mon, February 19, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

National Hockey League fans ejected for racist taunts at Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly

National Hockey League fans ejected for racist taunts at Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly

Devante Smith-Pelly was taunted by four fans shouting "basketball, basketball, basketball" on Saturday night during the Chicago Blackhawks' game against the Washington Capitals. An official sitting in the penalty area heard the taunts and called security. Smith-Pelly says he was confronted with a similar chant during a tournament in British Columbia. That's when the incident with the fans went down.

Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that Smith-Pelly has been subjected to such treatment from fans. Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, is one of roughly two dozen black players now in the National Hockey League.

The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Washington Capitals 7-1 Friday night at the United Center - but that's not the story.

"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 behaviours or actions and may not engage in conduct deemed detrimental to that experience". "I think it's disgusting, and there's no place for it. Athletes in our country don't deserve that". The incident occurred in Chicago in the third period during Smith-Pelly's five minute major for fighting.

"It is disgusting, it is sad that in 2018, we are still talking about the same thing over and over", he said. "It just shows ignorance", said Trotz, who said Smith-Pelly was upset about the incident after the game. This time, he was not going to brush off the comments.

The NHL, the Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks were all quick to condemn that kind of fan behavior, saying it has no place in hockey.

"The fans were immediately removed and we apologise to Smith-Pelly and the Washington Capitals organisation". That's where the 25-year-old forward, who is one of the league's few black players, was targeted with racially charged comments from fans seated near the box. Smith-Pelly debuted in 2011 and has played 320 games for the Anaheim Ducks, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and the Capitals, whom he joined last summer.

The incident comes during the NHL's "Hockey Is For Everyone" month, which aims to drive social change and promote diversity and inclusiveness in the game of hockey.

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