In the heated contest, cameras caught Simmonds yelling at Avery and it's pretty easy to read his lips (that includes some NSFW language). As a result, he'll be hearing from the league.
In this case he has to report to Campbell instead of new discipline chief Brendan Shanahan since it doesn't fall under Shanny's player safety umbrella. According to the CBA, Simmonds could only face a fine of up to $2,500 for the incident. One obstacle to a fine might be the lack of audio from the video just in case he was possibly saying something other than it what it clearly appears.
But that might not be the end of it. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is getting involved in the matter.
"Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink. The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable."
GLAAD is in dialogue the Philadelphia Flyers as well as the National Hockey League (NHL) about specific next steps. Updates will be posted on www.glaad.org/blog as they become available.
Recently, GLAAD has worked with sports leagues including the National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB) and the World Wrestling Federation (WWE) to address issues of homophobia in sports.
To compare this to similar happenings in the past year, there were two high-profile cases in the NBA. Joakim Noah of the Bulls received a $50,000 fine for using the homophobic slur and Kobe Bryant was docked $100,000 for the same.
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke also spoke up about the incident. Burke, who's deceased son Brendan was gay, has been an ardent supporter of gay rights. While he hadn't yet seen the video, here's what he told Katie Strang of ESPN New York.
"That type of comment has no place in the game," Burke told ESPNNewYork.com when reached by telephone Tuesday morning.
"If that happened, that is just so embarrassing and the league should not tolerate it," Burke said. "That should be treated on the same level as a racially charged incident. It's the same level of offensiveness and inappropriateness.
"I think sometimes it reflects the habitual rather than the homophobic," he said. "Players reach into their back pocket and that's what they say, not necessarily meaning to target someone's sexuality."
But that does not make the use of the word acceptable, Burke said.
"That does not make it OK," he said. "It's got to stop."
After the game, Avery confirmed Simmonds threw offensive language his way while Simmonds wouldn't elaborate, only saying things were said in the heat of the battle.
It's a classic case of Avery being Avery. Here's a very NSFW (language) video from the game in which you can hear Avery yelling at somebody about him not wanting to have to kill Claude Giroux during the game.
So clearly Avery was up to his usual antics and they got to the Flyers, Simmonds in particular. The agitator is no saint in this story by any stretch. But that doesn't absolve Simmonds for crossing the line that has been established. No matter what the actual intent was behind Simmonds' use of the word doesn't make it acceptable. Much like Shanahan did to explain the new rules, the league sends out memos to teams every year explaining what is acceptable and what is not as far as language goes.
It is something said to be an insult. Echoing some of Burke's sentiments, no matter if Simmonds is actually trying to insinuate Avery is homosexual or using it in a non-sexual orentation manner, the intent to insult Avery remains. And the particular insult he used is offensive to a segment of the population.
I imagine Simmonds will have a full and sincere apology coming soon enough and hopefully that will be the end of it. I'm just ready for some good ol' hockey.