Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward took the high road Thursday after his game-winning over-time goal that ousted Boston from the NHL playoffs was greeted by a spate of racist tweets.
"It does't faze me at all," Ward told USA Today. "We won and we are moving on. People are going to say what they want to say."
Ward, a Canadian whose parents are from Barbados, told the newspaper that as a black ice hockey player he long ago became accustomed to being a rarity in his sport.
But he said he hadn't before encountered racism at the NHL level. He chose to focus not on the virulent nature of some of the attacks but on those fans who responded in his defence.
"I'm definitely getting a lot of support," Ward said. "There have been a lot of Boston fans who have supported me, which is very cool to see.
"No hard feelings from me. This is a game."
The Bruins, who won the Stanley Cup last season, released a statement on Thursday afternoon denouncing the slurs.
By then, many of the offending Twitter feeds had been disabled.
"The Bruins are very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night," the team said. "These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization."
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis condemned the culprits and thanked those who fired back.
"What these people have said and done is unforgivable," Leonsis wrote on his blog. "There should be zero tolerance for this kind of hate mongering."
The NHL also condemned the remarks.
"The racially charged comments distributed via digital media following last night's game were ignorant and unacceptable," the league said in a statement. "The people responsible for these comments have no place associating themselves with our game."
It's the second time this season the NHL has found itself dealing with race. In September, a fan tossed a banana at Philadelphia winger Wayne Simmonds, who is black, during a pre-season exhibition game in Canada.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called the gesture "stupid and ignorant."
Source: AFP Global Edition