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. tom

    you can't blame whites as a whole for being prejudice or racist for some little groups stupid remarks. they don't represent whites as a whole just like gangsters don't represent blacks as a whole. there will always be those kind of people no matter how you look at it we just need to learn to ignore them. that is unless they start to use violence for their beliefs then they become terrorists. then all bets are off no matter who you are or what group u represent.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • gaines williams

      well said tom... i'm sure eventually people will come around to this line of thinking and all races will be better off and will move forward

      April 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ariel

      They should be marginalized and ostracized, not ignored. That's the only way to send a message.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • CJP

      True. Interestingly, looking at the US overall as a country, African Americans are way more sensitive and consumed with skin color. It's a shame that they can't just blend in and be Americans only.

      April 26, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. megs

    This is a disgrace in news to that it be posted here. The vast majority of Bruins fans did not contribute to this disgusting displace of racism. Shame on you CNN in your attempt to captilize on the small minority of people who post unintelligent racist remarks on twitter.

    April 26, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Not Alanis

    Ironic Redux – by not Alanis Morissette

    An old goalie turned thirty-eight,
    He won the Cup and choked the next year,
    It's a black winger in his crease,
    And a President who wants to share a beer,
    It's a Tea Party loss to the Washington Caps,
    And it's Liberal bastion called Boston with the sickest tweets,

    Isn't it ironic,
    Don't you think?

    April 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NOBO

    Yup.... whoop-de-do! There are aways idiots around, plus If the guy was really fat, they would call him fatso, etc, etc, etc...

    April 26, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  5. XerXeS_2012

    Hockey and Nascar go hand in hand when it comes to their feelings about us black folk. They still feel, we are not allowed. They barely accepted Danika Patrick, in the white persons eyes, we're rated under the female. It wont change until all is mixed, then you cannot be racist.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. H

    Wow racist Boston fans. Big surprise.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Matthew

    This just in: Boston's notoriously racist fans make a racist comment.

    In other news: The sky is still blue.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    You stay classy, Boston.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hami

      Best comment!!!

      April 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Well Then

    Getting beat by washington is what TT gets for stiffing the white house

    April 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Excitizen

      Yes, that was totally classless, kinda like some of their fans.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chrissy

    Before social media was invented we could just ignore these braindead low-class idiots. But now they are posting their stupid comments everywhere. Just ignore them like you would in the street. These people are cowards and only hide behind the internet because that makes them anonymous. They wouldn't have the guts to call someone the N word to their face.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Excitizen

    All racist people are classless and ignorant.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Seriously

    I work for a company and monitor their twitter feed as part of my job.
    And I am assuming the reason folks are up in arms about this is because a white person tweeted this right, because no one uses the "N" word more on twitter than blacks themselves. Do as I say and not as I do.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    How about they publish the word in the article? Ugh. Tired of these PC news articles. JUST SAY IT!

    April 26, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Thomas

    It should come as no surprise that these kinds of slurs are written by modern day neanderthals
    who hold a grudge against other humans for every kind of behavior, speech, skin color, language,
    heigth, weight, etc.,. The reason the slurs and grudges exist is because the neanderthals remain
    unable to compete with their targets.

    The neanderthal wants, or thinks that he wants to be noticed for his/her abilities and their targets
    of slurs are getting all of their glory, instead of attention being paid to them.

    Ward is just one target of many slurs. It isn't personal! The slurs are not about Ward at all.

    The slurs are about the person making the slur. The slur is their demand for attention. " Look at me!"
    so the slur goes," this guy is worthless compared to me." And then neanderthals buddy up to take on
    the gainsayers together while each demand and seek attention to themself, as an individual.

    Each feel and believe they have been overlooked. Don't overlook neanderthals or you will get slurred!

    John Thomas

    April 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Denzel

      I very much agree my friend

      April 26, 2012 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Disgusted

      How can these morons tweet without opposable thumbs? If they have them maybe this proofs a roomful of ignorant sport fans CAN type under 140 characters. I wonder if they can write a thought in over 140 characters? hmmm.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      they have opposing thumbs theyre just dragging the ground.

      April 27, 2012 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Luvvy Duvvy

      I find your hateful slurs towards neanderthals equally offensive.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • crowgan

      i agree. he's insulting neanderthals isn't he?

      April 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      @Luvvy Duvvy, Thanks buddy! we Neanderthals have to play together......I mean stick together!......Ugh.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jay

      Agreed. Neanderthals are people too. Or have we evolved so much further from those base instincts?

      April 26, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Spot on!

      April 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • All B. Good

      Why do you believe that a group of people the Neanderthal's would be involved in this type of vial behavior? Just asking.

      April 26, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • crowgan

      Let's leave the Dutch out of this

      April 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      It's closed minded thinking like this, that has brough my race (Neanderthal's) to the brink of extinction! ....Gunt....

      April 26, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • BeerBrewerDan

      *snort*.....John Thomas...

      April 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kev03

      Very well said!

      April 26, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Neanderthal

      @John Thomas

      Speaking for Neanderthals everywhere, I take offense at your comments. Far from seeking attention, we strive, and largely succeed in being unnoticed. Please do not mistake badly behaved Cro-Magnon types for us Neanderthals. We are good law-abiding, polite, and easily ignored citizens.

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

      Right-On homey, I like that!

      April 26, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Max

      uh, now you're sounding quite defensive and downright insecure yourself. I've a feeling those "neanderthals" you refer to are probably the ones who paved the way for you to even be able to sit back and reply on a computer.

      April 26, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Kevin

    Times have changed...significantly. What hasn't changed is that there are still some racists/idiots out there that have access to Twitter. To try to imply we are anywhere even close to the 1960s is disingenuous. Keep it going though CNN, it's an election year!

    April 26, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
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