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. gregory21

    Boston are sore loosers about all there teams.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • dave shanahan

      at least we can spell. learn to reed.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. muhtah32

    These gutless cowards would never say the N word in front the person they were calling it

    April 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      muhtah32- I would be willing to bet that a few of them would and back it up....

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

    Ha, is there ever a day in time when Boston DOESN'T hurl racial insults?

    April 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    Probably Tim Thomas' Tea Party Express writing those tweets.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ariel

    Disgusting and to the person who said the fan that threw the banana near Wayne Simmonds didn't mean it in a racist way, get real. People who try to cover, deflect, or minimize racism are almost as bad the bigots. Simmonds was incredibly gracious in handling the incident – class vs. trash.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jim

    Ugh. Hile? What a tool.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Mr T

    Why does CNN post this story when they still wont post the story about the White man who got jumped by the black men who said "Justice for Trayvon" Seems to me CNN want to try there hardest to make the world seem that all whites hate blacks. Good Job CNN.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Kevin

    This story is at 100x more important than the multiple beatings endured by caucasians that have occurred in response to the handling of the Trayvon Martin investigation. Maybe a 1000x.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • oldpatriot

      Oh yeah, in 2012 its open race war fomented by the president and his administration!

      April 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Snacklefish

    It's all Mel Brook's fault.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  10. oldpatriot

    “Despite a black president, things haven't changed,” – this is incorrect – the problem is the President and his cronies are constantly playing the race card, there has been more race baiting and race battles happening since Obama became president – he isnt reducing racial tensions in America but is instead expanding them for political gain! it doesn't surprise me when latent racists act out when Obama shows them the way!

    April 26, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • guest

      Please show us when. I'm glad to see that as an adult, you still resort to childish ways, and present excuses for what other people are doing wrong. This is the problem with this country, no one wants to stand for any morals, everyone wants to stand for money and their own self-interest.

      April 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Excitizen

      Old Patriot – change your name to more accurately reflect who you really are – Old Racist!

      April 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • sybaris

      It's hard for you to see a black family in the White House, Old Racist

      April 26, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. sybaris

    Why is this a surprise?

    Even blacks discriminate against each other due to skin tone.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Lila

    I love the tweets that tracked down the racist idiots and put their info out there!! hahahaha!! Btw I'm originally from Boston, most Bruin fans are NOT like that.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JUST SAY'N

    I love it, I hope just for them there will be more on their team to beat their team and they can tweet some more, the morons, Just to let you lame brains know, we can afford skates and we are getting better and better and better...and we all know that just sets the bar a little higher for your ????...

    April 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. john

    Boston: home to racists, the worst accents in the country & the most obnoxious sports fans on Earth....so glad I live thousands of miles away from there..

    April 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steph

    More race bating from the liberal left. Plain and simple.

    April 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Benjamin D. Crews

      Question: why is it that all these people are Republican Conservatives?; The killer of abortion Dr.Tiller, McVey, the Oklahoma home-grown terrorist who blew up the federal bldg., the shooter of the congresswoman and the 9-yr. old girl in Arizona, Rush Limbaugh, the prescription drug addicted blow-hard on radio, All the Fox News commentators who impersonate real newscasters, and every white supremacist organization (tea party included.)

      April 26, 2012 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Drez

      Spoken like a true racist right-wing moron..

      April 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
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