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. sayitstr8r

    yes, well now you know what you need to know about boston, southie, the white trash mentality of that fine city. ignore them, after all, they are ignoramuses, buffons, they couldn't score a nhl goal if they were in front of the net because stupidity would get in the way.

    good goal Mr. Ward. and southie, you s**k big time

    April 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Dominick Procopio

    pay no attention to them haters. There just mad the Bruins lost Haha

    April 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  3. glu

    How do you know that the people making these comments are not blacks being troublemakers? You don't, so its not even valid.

    April 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve

      The fact that there most likely were VERY VERY few blacks watching or who even care about hockey makes it likely enough that they were not responsible for the tweets. I have never met a black person who watches hockey. I'm black btw.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TriXen

    How embarrassing for Bruins fans for a few of them to give the rest a bad name like that. Shameful...

    April 26, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Evan

    Some of y'all with these posts are COMPLETELY missing the point, trying to say that "times have changed" because the racism isn't as overtly prevalent. And the defense of whites claiming that white racism is much stronger? You clearly don't understand the power dynamics in this country and how badly they are STILL slanted towards whites.

    April 26, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • t0fast

      Sorry Evan, all Race Cards have been revoked. So every time you try taking it out it'll just be thrown back in your face. Time to deal with things like everyone else now. That's how equality works.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      It only slants that way at the very top, mostly due to nepitism and chronism. That effects whites just as much. The 1% erz have this nation by its junk.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Michael

    Me and my two brothers played hockey growing up in Illinois. White kids would come to our house and get us three to play the game trying to beat us because we could skate really and we were very good. In Illinois there was no racism in hockey. If you could skate and play indoor or outside you were good. There was a ton of Black kids back then that played hockey. Kids in and around the surrounding neighborhoods challenged each other by renting the Robert Crown Ice center. It was 50 percent Blacks, 50 percent whites and one Mexican on the ice. That Mexican could play. As a big fan of the sport, this racism is unacceptable.

    April 26, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. t0fast

    Crazy thing is, this wouldn't had happened before 2008. Obama made everything about race and in turn brought racism back stronger than ever.

    April 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jstout511

    Why is the media covering the ignorant tweets of a handful of bigots? Show me the statistics that demonstrate that these morons are representative of Caucasians. It's the media that stirs up all this crap...another slow news day, I guess.

    April 26, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  9. b fan

    As a Bruin's fan I for one was just too in shock by the goal to notice or even CARE who shot it! They lost, get over it. It's disgusting to see this kind of reaction over a damn good shot!

    April 26, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Alan

    CNN just can't seem to put away their daily race card......................................

    April 26, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • Colleen

      Yeah, that's the funny thing about racists. They see their actions as normal and wonder why others question it.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scruff

      CNN? Um, did you read the story? Looks like the COUNTRY can't.

      April 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. DS

    I can't find anywhere on CNN where they covered Marion Berry's racist remarks towards Asians. If he were white, I'll bet it would be on the headlines.

    April 26, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Scruff

    "Scruff

    CNN? Um, did you read the story? Looks like the COUNTRY can't."

    That was supposed to be a reply........

    April 26, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ferisbueller

    God bless this guy. Wow Jackie Robinson was how many years ago? I have a heavy heart from this. Not surprised, but extremely saddened. I love hockey, I think it's the best sport on earth, and when I started watching it about 20 years ago, there were maybe TWO black men in the league. Granted 20 isn't alot but I'm glad it's trending FROM an all white type sport, like golf. It's a great game, filled with emotion and grit, and everyone should try it out. To those of you who issue these slurs, perhaps the attention you are getting now is more than you'll ever deserve. Congrats Joel, wasn't a scorching shot or a highlight play, but you picked up a rebound and were in the right place at the right time. Crashed the net, and picked up the rebound. You did your job. Congrats to the rest of the caps as well. Heck of a series. You never know with hockey. SO much heart in it, it's usually the team with the most heart that wins (and usually a pretty solid goaltender)

    April 26, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. MartyFarty

    If you go to the Faux News threads, you will see racist comments all day. I am not saying this is right, but I am saying that it is a daily occurrence and this story has just enough of a twist to captivate people.

    April 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jstout511

    The Caps are "my" team, so I want to thank Joel for a great goal! Do it again and again in the next series!

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