NHL player Joel Ward's winning goal sparks racist tweets
Joyous teammates swarm Capitals right wing Joel Ward after his series-winning goal against the Bruins.
April 26th, 2012
02:02 PM ET

NHL player Joel Ward's winning goal sparks racist tweets

[Updated at 2:26 p.m. ET] As Joel Ward’s Washington Capitals teammates swarmed their new hero after his playoff series-winning goal against the NHL’s defending champions Wednesday night, more sinister emotions were swirling on social media.

A number of people took to Twitter with racist comments, calling Ward - one of about 20 black men currently on National Hockey League rosters - the N-word after the Capitals beat the host Boston Bruins 2-1 in overtime of Game 7 of their first-round playoff series.

Perhaps to those tweeters’ surprise, someone collected 40 of those tweets and put them in one place: Chirpstory, a site where one can aggregate other people’s Twitter posts for posterity.

The posts included:

- “Haha that (slur) actually did something.”
- “The fact that a (slur) got the goal makes it ten times worse.”
- “We lost … To a hockey playing (slur)…. What kind of (expletive) is this.”

To what should be no one’s surprise, the posts caught the attention of sports celebrities and media Wednesday night and Thursday morning.

“Despite a black president, things haven't changed,” sports columnist and ESPN “First Take” contributor Rob Parker tweeted Thursday morning.

“Thought times have changed? Is this real?” former Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington tweeted.

The offensive tweets came after Ward, a 31-year-old right wing, followed up one of his teammates’ shots and backhanded the rebound past Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, ending the Bruins' season.

As the collection of offensive tweets made its way through social media - Canadian broadcaster CTV was among the media outlets to notice them early - some of the people behind the original posts started shying away from the growing attention. By late Thursday morning, several of the tweeters in the Chirpstory collection had removed or hidden their Twitter accounts.

Others still had the posts on their own Twitter pages, and still others had removed the original posts but added posts either ridiculing the angry reaction they were getting or saying that they aren’t racist.

The National Hockey League, the Capitals and the Bruins also took notice.

"The racially charged comments distributed via digital media following last night's game were ignorant and unacceptable," the NHL said Thursday. "The people responsible for these comments have no place associating themselves with our game."

The Bruins released a statement saying they were disappointed, and that the "classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization." The Capitals' statement said that the comments were unacceptable, and that they are "outraged by those individuals who expressed such ignorant comments."

This isn’t the NHL’s first racially tinged incident to grab headlines this season. In September, a fan threw a banana onto the ice as a black player, the Philadelphia Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds, prepared to take a penalty shot during an exhibition game against the Detroit Red Wings in London, Ontario.

Racially charged outbursts in sports, on Twitter and on the field of play (as Liverpool and Manchester United fans well know), are nothing new. A search for the N-word and any sports team on the social media site will yield a number of offensive results.

But the messages that flew Wednesday night won’t help the image of a sport in which few black men play professionally, and in which those that do fight stereotypes. “This guy can’t stand on skates,” the Winnipeg Jets’ Dustin Byfuglien, who is black, once said, recalling what people had said about him.

Coincidentally, the team that many of the N-word tweeters were supporting - the Bruins - was the first NHL club to feature a black player: Willie O'Ree, in January 1958.

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Filed under: Hockey • NHL • Race • Sports
soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. ghost

    Boston is easily one the most racist cities in U.S.

    April 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Suleiman the Magnificent

    You ugly pieces of scatological matter. You only show your limited education and the fact you were brought up in a barn. No wonder your position in life is so low. You can be qualified as Drongos, gallah and dropkicks.

    April 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joe McGurkin

    unfortunately racism and ignorance will forever hold hands. These guys are in for a great barbecue and warm beer in hell some day)

    April 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  4. crowgan

    Boston is a city full of people who hate other people, and I HATE people like that

    April 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimBob

      Way to make a false generalization about the city of Boston. You're no better than the clowns making racist tweets.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kat Fud

      "I'm sure we all agree that we ought to love one another and I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings and I hate people like that. "

      Tom Lehrer's intro to his song, "National Brotherhood Week".

      April 26, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DK

    Obviously, this is all Trayvon Martin's fault. They were just standing their ground. Racism doesn't exist.

    April 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hockey Fan

    the last line of the article about Boston's history PROVES the ignorance of the jerks that tweeted such racilly motivated responses. Hey jerks, YOU LOST!!! Deal with it!!

    April 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Raedwulf

    Apparently this race thing is an important matter in the US. Now certain individuals need to invade Canada's game with their poison. Probably the same ones that suggested red and blue dots to help the television audiences track a black puck on white ice are responsible.

    April 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Realdirect

    Boston, is the most racist city on the east coast....if your a racist your a coward! They rarely show their racism face to face. Social media ( i.e. ) the Internet is the new klan hood. It's something they hide behind....keep your hoods on !

    April 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimBob

      Again, nice generalization about the city of Boston. What evidence or statistical data do you have that proves Boston is "the most racist city on the East Coast"? Your ignorance is no better than the racist twitter clowns.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pm ohio

    Not surprised at all. I live in Central Ohio and I have to deal with racist bloggers all the time, usually the same 5 or 6 ignoramuses...a story in the Columbus Dispatch about a slaying in a poor area and the typical thinly veiled racist comments appear. A story about some white meth heads robbing someone or breaking the law...no comments whatsoever. The internet and blogs have given some of these racists cover from being identified, so they think they can spew thier hatered hiding behind a keyboard. PS: They also identify themselves as Tea Party members and hate the President, of course.

    April 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mo

    thats what happens when you allow racists like tim thomas to play in the nhl. it breeds/allows racism to run rampant

    April 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimBob

      LOL, what, you think Timmy Thomas is a racist because he wouldn't go visit President Obama last year? Please, try to come up with something better than that!

      April 26, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Perry Mason For the Defense

    "The people responsible for these comments have no place associating themselves with our game."

    Does this mean that Spike Lee will be banned from NY Knicks games? And will Al Sharpton be banned from NY Rangers Games? And will Jesse Jackson be banned from Madison Square Garden?

    These tweets were idiotic, but let's get real - these are sports grunts and ignorant, but you have very high profile blacks in office and in media, and they are just as bad...

    April 26, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. ACE345

    Such bull.... makes me ashamed to know there are still such racists in boston. If you say that crap, then you can't cheer for any beantown sports team because they all have black people on them!

    April 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Perry Mason For the Defense

      THERE ARE 6 MILLION SPORTS FANS IN BOSTON; There were 20,000 at the game; millions more on TV. The tweets did NOT all come from Boston; they came from all over the country THERE WERE JUST 30 TWEETS Some of the tweets came from college students – the majority of which are NOT from Boston Some tweets came from other states -

      April 26, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    It's truely sad to see this kind of thing happening, though I suppose that having 40 idiots out of thousands of fans, things could (unfortunately) be worse.
    Still, I'm surprised that all those right-thinking (or in this case, LEFT-thinking) liberal types up in Taxachussetts could be capable of tweeting such nonsense. Then again, I'm old enough to remember the things that were said when schools in Boston were ordered desegregated. I thought that only southern "hicks" were capable of saying such things, but I was totally wrong. Seriously though, I guess idiots come in all shapes and sizes (and colors and political persuasions, too.)

    April 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Perry Mason For the Defense

      The game was in Massachuestts The tweets did NOT all come from Boston -- and those that did come from Boston were drunk college students - attending school in Boston BUT NOT from Boston

      April 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nate

    There are billions of people in the world, so why do people act surprised that some of them are racist? It shouldn't be a news story every time some random people say racist things over the internet. There are plenty of racist people from every ethnicity.

    April 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. crowgan

    Every person in Boston is a bad person. How can you dispute that?

    April 26, 2012 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Perry Mason For the Defense

      Obama is in Boston

      April 26, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Report abuse |
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