NHL Player Subjected To Racist Attacks On Twitter

It was a hard-fought opening round series in the NHL playoffs: the defending Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, competing against the barely-made-the-playoffs Washington Capitals. Everyone thought it would be a rout, but as everyone knows, once the playoffs begin all bets are off. And when the series went to Game 7 and then in to Overtime it was destined to be classic NHL hockey, with the player who scored the goal an instant hero to his team’s fans and an instant enemy to fans of the other team. Joel Ward’s goal at 2.57 of the first overtime period made him that hero, handing them the series and sending them to round 2 – and sending Boston to the golf course.

Only problem? Joel Ward is black, a Canadian of Barbadian descent, a rare sight in the overwhelmingly Caucasian NHL. And some hockey fans, particularly Boston supporters, chose to vent their playoff disappointment on Twitter – and targeted Joel Ward’s race instead of his hockey skills, with widespread use of the “N” word. Deadspin got screen captures of some of the worst tweets, including the following:

“You guys let the ______ score? I’m done.”

“Of all people to score it had to be the ______”.

The tweets were roundly condemned by the Bruins, the NHL and, most effectively, by other hockey fans on Twitter.  Shortly thereafter, many of the offending tweets were deleted as were some of the accounts, their former owners slinking off in to obscurity.

Joel Ward heard of the nasty remarks on the way home to Washington, but didn’t let it faze him. “We won, and we are moving on“, he said “People are going to say what they want to say.”

Both the Bruins and the NHL strongly condemned the language.   ““These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization,” said a Bruins press release.

Racism isn’t something new for the NHL. Just this past January, the NHL investigated when Krys Barch of the Florida Panthers was ejected from a game for using a racial slur against black player P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens. And earlier in the season, Philadelphia player Wayne Simmonds had bananas thrown at him during a game.


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Photo credit: Dan4th on Flickr


Myriam G.
Myriam G5 years ago

Dear Paul B,
thanks, and I really appreciate your comments, too. Your friend from Nigeria did the right thing by walking away from the stupid aggressive parents. Say Hi to him for me, will you?

And a huge, massive thank you for your dedication to junior hockey!!! (I went to your page)Massive respect, too. Kids today need sports like hockey more than ever, and these kids needs coaches and referees like you. You're making it possible, man. Massive respect to you!

It was nice talking hockey with you. In your honour, now that all Canadian teams are out, I will pull for your Rangers. May the great spirits of Hockey Past bring the Cup to them.

And, as for Don Cherry... who is that? Just kidding... the more he talks, the more I zone out... I think his presence and comments are just for ratings, which really doesn't work in my case, because I rarely watch Hockey on CBC, even now that my dear "La soirée du Hockey" is gone. I rather watch it in French on RDS, because... there is no Don Cherry on RDS.

Have a great rest of the Playoffs, and hope you go home with the Cup!

Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

Well said, really well said.... Now I'm a HUGE NY Rangers fan growing up in downstate NY, Da Bronx bleeding Broadway Blue just about my entire life... We just finished two periods of OT and still going at it with the Caps!!! Just give it up to us already, Dale..... Sheeesh.

Now as a Rangers fan I too stick by my team and my heart ached as your Club de Hockey kicked our Butts way too many times... But clearly your club has a great and storied history and I used to love the style of play of your "Flying Frenchmen"... Those were some truly awesome teams back then. I even remember watching your last Cup run living in Vermont on our cable system that actually got CBC which was such a treat for a couple of years while living there.... Speaking of which and speaking of closed minded potentially racist people:
What's your take on Grapes??? Don Cherry? Now there's a loaded question, Ah???

Well if and when some future season my Rangers get kicked out of the play-offs while the Habs are still in it, I will be pulling for your Habs, but only then... But they really are the NY Yankees of Professional Ice Hockey... We just got a power play in this 3rd OT so let me fly here....


Myriam G.
Myriam G5 years ago

I'm glad Joel Ward didn't even comment the slurs. That's what people should do with slurs: ignore them, as they comes from ignorants.

I can relate to him: I'm a Canadian of Haitian descent, I'm a hockey fan, and though my father was born in Haiti, he's probably the biggest NHL hockey fan there is. Actually, in Montréal, lots of people of different origins (and different colours of skin) are hockey fans. I don't know why it surprises people, after all WE'RE CANADIANS, we like hockey, no matter what the colour of our skin. PK Subban is one of the public's darling, not because his skin is black, but because he's a good, young player. We alll love to see what kind of great player he's going to develop into (we really need to build our team back!!!) He receives his shares of criticism, of course, (hockey fans in Montréal can be harsh) but the colour of his skin never comes up... Could it be because races don't exist?

United Colours of Hockey Fans!!!

Jade H.
Jade H5 years ago

So much for "progress" on this planet....how sad and discouraging this is for all of us.

Past Member
Past Member 5 years ago


Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

Does anybody not consider that they are supposed to be hosting the visiting teams and acting as embassedors for their associations??? But in the end it is those that speak so ill and act so meanly and innappropriately that are simply showing their own stupidity and lack of decency, and backwards thinking....

BTW, in USA Hockey which covers just about all non-pro hockey besides most college hockey, letting out a racial or ethnic slur is a big super No-No that we don't take kindly to. Unfortunately most of these things are said in close contact in the corners and battling in front of the crease where frequently we officials can't personally observe and hear the specific foul language in the heat of the moment. It's a shame because obviously we can not penalize what we can not say with conviction we heard and saw what happened to support and document it properly. I know it happens and is probably the source of some of the nasty scrum when the gloves and sticks come up after the whistle, but we've got to hear and know for sure otherwise that would be just as wrong and inappropriate....

Paul B.
Paul B5 years ago

I got cut off before I could finish. That nice family that is friends of ours, their son plays for another fairly close by hockey association and the dad and I love to talk hockey and about our sons when we get the chance and cross paths either at our office or when our kids are playing at the same rink and we cross over.

One day they were the visitors at another rink north of here that is fairly rual and blue collar. As the game got chippy and out of hand less than proper behavior and exchanges were sent back and forth between the two sets of parents from the opposing teams. Well low and behold when all else fails like logic, common sense and the like, some of those who have not yet evolved actually show their lack of development and growth, upbringing and deep lack of respect for themselves and others.... Out popped the good ol' "N" word along with a whole bunch of other nasty and unsavory things with a nasty truly hateful tone and true meaness on the faces... Things almost got seriously ugly but our friend has the goodness in himself to walk away instead of allowing things to get to the point of physical violence and a donnybrook.... But goodness knows he certainly was entitled to do more than leave those idiots with a piece of his mind...

Does anybody not consider that they are supposed to be hosting the visiting teams and acting as embassedors for their associations??? But in the end it is those that speak so ill and act so meanly and innappropriately that are si

Sheri Schongold
Sheri Schongold5 years ago

This was not the NHL. This was fans of the Bruins and I am horrified that this happened. Boston fans are not known for this and I want to say I'm sorry for their infantile behavior.

Dean White
Dean White5 years ago

The NHL is not racist, though there be racists in NHL hockey. We love you,Joel Ward. Hold your head high-there are racist a--holes in every profession.

Donald T.
Donald T5 years ago

For any idiot out there still dreaming of a post-racial america, fuhgedabotit. Racism is alive and well and thriving in the great american exceptionalism of america. The republicans are loaded with toothless wonders from Mississippi, and other sundrious cracker jack jerks swearing allegiance to the stars and bars and insisting the confederacy will rise again. They are, truly, delusional and from another planet. And not just anti-black racism but also anti-Semitic, anti-gay, et cetera ad nauseum. republicans have polarized the nation and blame the democrats for their folly.