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. augustghost

    There are blacks in the NHL? Who knew

    April 26, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. MazeAndBlue

    Who cares what these racist trash think or say. More of the same good old boy tea party nuts. Due to your racist ignorance I'm now a fan. How stupid you are using the "N" word, is now a "term of endearment".

    April 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. David

    Times have changed, but some people will always be racist idiots.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  4. juge


    April 26, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Andy Daniel

    While the racism is unacceptable behavior, I think that at most of it is either trolling or "post-loss rioting" by fans of the losing team. Unfortunately, some people seem to enjoy the opportunity to do damage when there is a thin excuse, so they break windows of shop owners whom they don't know, overturn cars of people they've never met, join in a mob beating of some stranger, or post racial epithets for the fun of it. I think it overanalyzes the situation to look too much into the racial aspect, it's just an easily available way to act badly by people who don't care.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. scholarlymama71

    So much for a post-racial America, smh.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Chemtrail

    I'm deciding if this story was more or less interesting than reading about a homeless mans fingernails.I'm gonna go with the homeless guy's fingernails.Stop pandering CNN.You're the only ones covering this.Holy hell!!! 40 people tweeted racist remarks!!!!Oh my God!!!! What are we going to do!!!!!!????? Help!!!!!!!!

    April 26, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Collin Cowheard talked about this on his show earlier today so it's not just CNN stirring up trouble. oh yeah!!!!!!!

      April 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KB

    To steal a line from 50 "Your frown makes me smile." At the end of the day this guy did his job and if it were me I'd be trilled to know I upset a racist so much.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chemtrail

    40 people out of millions tweeted racist remarks.America will never recover.This is far worse than 9/11, WWII, and the holocaust....combined.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Exactly! 40 racist tweets out of millions of tweets last night. How many people tweeted something positive about him scoring the goal? Honestly CNN, go ahead and find out for me. Then write a followup to this story and let us know. and then when you expose there were THOUSANDS of positive tweets, and 40 idiots, explain to me why you felt the need to keep the racial flames burning instead of writing a positive story. EXPOSED – CNN LOVES RACIST STORIES!!!!

      April 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mobetter

    I'm sorry maybe having misspelled words and incorrect grammar who have persuaded you on my sarcasm

    April 26, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • ghost

      your grammar is still poor, but keep trying.

      April 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JustHuman1951

    Well, Bruins fans are notoriously crass and fickle even to their own hockey team anyway, so this trash talk does not surprise me one little bit. Too bad they take it so dang personally that they have to denigrate Mr. Ward.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. JD

    I'm a bruins fan. I hate racism. Mr. Ward made a fine play. Congratulations to the Caps.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Yeah, me too. I especially hate racism against whites, which is currently the most prevalent form by far.

      April 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Will

    This is just the usual liberal spin, the usual liberal attempts to breathe more life into the "white racism" fallacy from which they have extracted so much profit for decades. The simple fact is that you can find similar statements made by racist blacks anytime you want to. But of course the Leftist mainstream media has no interest in exposing those....

    April 26, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • drkent3

      So that makes it OK, right? "They do it, so its OK for me to do it". You sound like a 10 year old...

      April 26, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Your Such a Head Burying Pillow Biting Shirt-lifter!!!

      April 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Erin

      Oh shut up Will.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Al

      Will, you are the real problem. Are you seriously blaming the media for reporting this story? If those comments weren't made then there's nothing to report. Absolute ignorance.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kevin

      Will, ignore the clamoring. The correctly indoctrinated laboratory rats are behaving as they were conditioned to do. I survey for a transportation department in a very diverse state, so am roadside most days. I get called names daily. Where's the moral outrage for me? The righteous indignation? Be strong, man. These fools know not what they do.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • MartyFarty

      Will, The media can talk about how to make cheesecake and I'm sure you will find some way of making it a left thing.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Jen

    So pathetic! As a Canadian living in Boston all I have to say is, 'I want to go home!!!!'. The racism in the US never ceases to amaze me.

    April 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • LMNOP

      Just curious, but how racially diverse is Canada? I bet you have as many bigots north of the border as we do down here, but the bigots just don't have access to the internet in their log cabins in the Yukon territory.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jen

      Hugely diverse. Not as high percentage of black people as the US but many Asian, Indian and of course Native people. Bigots? No. That's why the blacks fled to Canada during slavery. Oh and gay marriage has been legal for years. The furor over gay marriage in the US is crazy. It shouldn't even be an issue (and it wasn't in Canada).

      April 26, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • BK

      I cannot even fathom why you are living here when you could be there, unless you just really hate cold weather.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • MartyFarty

      Its very easy to hide behind a twitter or chat screen and make off handed comments. These things wont stop until people take personnel ownership of their actions! We all know that most of those people are two faced and lack the courage to express their true feelings in the presence of, in their words "the opposite race".

      April 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  15. René Legault

    I am not a Bruins fan, the game could have gone one way or aonther. M"Ward did a fine play and the game went to Washington, good for them. Why do they have to bring a racist comment.........pity america......

    April 26, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
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