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.

Post by: ,
Filed under: Hockey • NHL • Race • Sports
soundoff (546 Responses)
  1. Blake

    Coming from hockey fans, I'm totally not surprised.

    April 27, 2012 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Greg

      Really? So you're saying you have actually met a plethora of racist hockey fans in your life? Or are you just letting your fingers blunder around the keyboard and accepting whatever nonsense comes out? Seriously, get a clue, this was a handful of tweets from a bunch of angry, spoiled, ignorant kids from New England. This has nothing to do with the culture of hockey.

      April 27, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Irskan

      yeah, like soccer, football, baseball, and basketball fans are models of good conduct and decency....

      April 27, 2012 at 8:54 am | Report abuse |
  2. Justin

    I can guarantee they were all from Boston fans, I would say 25-35% of Bruins fans are all racist.

    Get some class people, it's 2012.

    April 27, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Well, Boston is a notoriously racist city.

      April 27, 2012 at 8:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tom


    April 27, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  4. Chuck Fox

    not just hockey fans. bruin fans. angry, white, drunk, bostonians. to be expected.

    April 27, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
  5. Fox Mulder

    Racism on the internet? I am shocked, sir! Shocked!

    April 27, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • JORGE

      The amount of energy some people put into hate, imagine if they channel that into something productive.

      April 27, 2012 at 8:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. fearmonger

    Sad part is when they say the N word in basketball or football it's excepted...

    April 27, 2012 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      It's a cultural thing (among people of African descent) you could'nt begin to understand, because its not used the way you think nor is it acually the same word but a variation! Confused! See I told you.

      April 27, 2012 at 10:07 am | Report abuse |
    • troy

      The N word can be used to hateful or not hateful. In this Hockey story, it was used to be hateful. This is not that confusing.

      May 1, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. infonomics

    Racism in the North? Ha, obviously, an error, a misrepresentation. Racism only occurs in the South, yes, the South, where hockey rules.

    April 27, 2012 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |

      The SOUTH has much more class than this, and besides in the south we call you whatever in your FACE and stand up to it.
      Then, after the fight, we go have lunch at the jail.

      April 27, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. thefurious

    Are we all really surprised? Boston -was- the center for slave trade in the US.

    April 27, 2012 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      I think you mean Charleston, SC.

      April 27, 2012 at 8:38 am | Report abuse |
  9. Dex

    Haters gonna Hate!

    April 27, 2012 at 7:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Al

    Why does it appear that cnn goes out of its way to promote racial issues? We have enough problems and really don't need cnn pushing hate just to increase viewer numbers. You people are in need of professional help or should get real jobs.

    April 27, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Carrier

      Every time you click on one of these articles, it generates hits for the article. The more hits a subject gets, the more likely CNN is to run stories pertaining to it. If you are sick of it, don't click on the articles.

      April 27, 2012 at 8:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jason

    A significant portion of Bruin's fans racist? Why I never.... OK I believe it.

    April 27, 2012 at 8:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. Eddie

    One thing I learned in my 40 years of employment. If you are successful and your co-workers cannot go up to your level they will try everything to bring you down to their level. This tweeters cannot play hockey and they will try to bring him down using issues that has nothing to do with hockey, his skin color, and then will claim they are not racist. I see this a lot in court, I violated the law but I claim not guilty.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  13. Michael

    I am an African American male who grew up in the "hood" and has always loved and played the game of hockey, still do! I am talking old school from the Stan Makita, Bobby Orr, Butch Goring and the California Golden Seals, Roge Vashon, Guy Lefluer and on and on days. Listen, those that make commnets like that are in the minority and take hockey (and sports) way to serious. I am glad to see the Bruins and the Capital organizations come out with statements condeming such comments. Meanwhile, lets just look at it for what it is, a bunch of moronic sore losers! For the rest of us lets get back to enjoying the game we love and rooting for our favorite team and accept defeat graciously. Go RANGERS!

    April 27, 2012 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
  14. Name*hugh fraser

    Figures that reds necks show their colours when things don't go there way. First the blatent disrespect by Tim the goaltender now the fans. This individual snubs a sitting Pres and that's OK but I can't remember a black player snubbing white Pres before know how they were viewed that goalie should've been rep remanded by league for social conduct what message was sent to kids about how to respect leader as blacks have done regardless of belief thumbs down for that guy plus I might add I'm not a American.

    April 27, 2012 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |

    Post The Names. just post the names...

    April 27, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25