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. jimmy

    kudos to CTV for making the tweets public. expose these idiots and make them run and hide and take down their twitter accounts. maybe if they keep getting publicly shamed enough they will shut up altogether.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JMac

    The use of slurs are probably coming from fans that have no idea that the B's had the first Black hockey players in the NHL Willie O'Ree. He has beens referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of ice hockey". Any of the trolls who tweeted that crap should go back under the Tobin bridge where they belong.

    Signed a disappointed (but not racist) Bruins fan

    April 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  3. xGen

    Racist people on the Internet? NO WAY!

    How is this news?

    April 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. PensFanRoo16

    Great game tainted by senseless White Trash. No matter what we want to happen to racism it is still alive and well in this country.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • wolfman

      if you hate racism so much, why do you use racist terms like white trash?

      April 26, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Paulo

    Stay classy Boston.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • James Tibbs

      Promoting racism is not classy, just trashy

      April 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andrea

    So what are only white men allowed to play hockey. Get real people

    April 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  7. blah9999

    These are the people who hate the president, simply because he's black. That's a huge chunk of the GOP and conservatives. They just don't want to admit it. Go to any anonymous message board and see how many people throw in the n-word with Obama.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. James Tibbs

    Let the whole world see that this is what people racist people in 2012 looks like, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your poor choice of words, shows exactly how half of your mind functions while the other half deploys a mask. Shame, shame, shame.........Wonder what your minority friends think of you now?

    April 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jake

    Woooooooooooooohoooohooooohooohooooooo...the bruins lost, ya baby, you a boston fan looooooost. got to love it. goooot toooo looooove it. guess there golfing this weekend. no rings for you this year boston......yaaaaaaaaaa baby woooooooooooooooooo.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. GodfatherofSoul

    I'm Black, and I 'm getting sick of these stories. This is nothing but more CNN race baiting for ratings. It's not like an NHL spokesman made these comments, just a handful of morons on the internet. Hell, I can find more N-bombs from the trolls on IMDB in one thread. I see this many N-bombs thrown out in one Battlefield 3 match. So, where's the "Racist Electronic Arts Players" headline?

    April 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Phil

    CNN helps to perpetuate this racism by constantly reporting on it. Why is this a news story? The media should ignore the ignoramuses of the world instead of giving them worldwide publicity. CNN, you are part of the problem.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Mike

    Short black guys need a sport too.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Carlton

    Why should this be so surprising? This is normal behavior in America! So many people want to act like America is beyond racism, are you serious!

    April 26, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chuckster

    No surprise here. We have been and still are a racist country.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mark

    The internet........A forum for spineless morons

    April 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • RobbD

      I concur.

      April 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Well Then

      100% agree

      April 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm | 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