The NHL on Sunday condemned the “unacceptable and reprehensible behavior” of several fans in Chicago who were ejected for racist comments directed at Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly during Saturday night’s game. Smith-Pelliy, who is black, was in the penalty box at United Center when a group of four fans chanted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, according to the Washington Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan. Smith-Pelly became visibly upset by what fans had said and picked up his stick to confront them. The fans were ejected after an-off ice official confirmed their words. "Last night in Chicago, individuals directed racial taunts and abuse at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly," said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement. "The National Hockey League condemns this unacceptable and reprehensible behavior. The League fully supports the actions taken by the United Center and the Blackhawks to eject the offenders and would expect the same response to any similarly unacceptable behavior at any of our arenas. "While this incident was isolated in nature, no player, coach, official or fan should ever have to endure such abuse at one of our games. The League will take steps to have our clubs remind all stakeholders that they are entitled to enjoy a positive environment - free from unacceptable, inappropriate, disruptive, inconsiderate or unruly behaviors or actions and may not engage in conduct deemed detrimental to that experience." The NHL and its players' association celebrate “Hockey is for Everyone” month in February. The league describes the initiative as an effort to “provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status."
Bettman condemns 'reprehensible' racist taunts toward Smith-Pelly
USA Today | Feb 18