Chicago fans ejected following racist taunts at Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly
Smith-Pelly confronted the fans from inside the penalty box before they were escorted out
An awful incident during Saturday's Capitals-Blackhawks game in Chicago resulted in a group of fans being ejected after directing racist taunts at Washington's Devante Smith-Pelly.
After a third period fight with Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy, Smith-Pelly headed to the penalty box to serve his five-minute major. 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.
The game's television broadcast happened to be showing Smith-Pelly when he appeared to hear the remarks made by those fans, making him visibly angry. Eventually, the Caps forward had heard enough and got up to confront the fans though the glass partition.
According to the Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan, four fans were booted from the game following the penalty box altercation.
After the game, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz spoke about the incident, calling it "digusting."
The Blackhawks also released an official statement following the game. In that release, the team apologized to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals organization for "harmful comments" made by the fans.
"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."
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.
Unfortunately, this isn't the first time that Smith-Pelly has been subjected to such treatment from fans. Back in 2017, he told the Toronto Star's Bruce Arthur about a similar incident that occurred during his first rookie tournament in British Columbia.
Smith-Pelly also discussed how difficult and lonely it can be for a black player in hockey.
"I can't go to anyone on my team and have them understand really how it is to be in my shoes," said Smith-Pelly. "Just because I'm a professional hockey player: they just don't understand. So it's really lonely in that sense. You don't really have anyone."
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