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Hockey fan throws banana at African-American player

It’s been a wacky week or more for Wayne Simmonds, one of the few African-American players in the predominantly white National Hockey League. It’s been a wacky week or more for Wayne Simmonds, one of the few African-American players in the predominantly white National Hockey League.

Wayne Simmonds
Wayne
Simmonds

Consider this:

On Monday (Sept. 26), Simmonds, was taking heat for reportedly directing a gay slur at a New York Rangers’ player.

And last Thursday (Sept. 22), Simmonds, who plays forward for the Philadelphia Flyers, seemed to be the object of derision for a fan who threw a banana onto the ice during a game between the Flyers and Detroit Red Wings in London, Ontario.

According to Colin Campbell, senior vice president for the NHL, conflicting accounts made it impossible to determine what exactly happened in the game in which Simmonds was accused of making the slur. So, no punishment was meted out to Simmonds.

“All players, coaches and officials in the National Hockey League deserve the respect of their peers, and have the absolute right to function in a work environment that is free from racially or sexually-based innuendo or derision,” Campbell said in a released statement. “This is the National Hockey League’s policy and it will remain so going forward.”

Some gay and lesbian groups want Simmonds to own up to the slur and issue an apology. And they want the NHL to make moves to discourage players from making such comments.

In the banana incident, Christopher Moorhouse, 26, has been charged with “engaging in a prohibited activity on a premises under the trespass to property act.” The maximum punishment is a fine of not more than $2,000.

Police have concluded the incident was not a hate crime. It took place during a tie-breaking shootout.

As Simmonds skated toward the goal to take the first shot in the shootout, a banana was flung into his path. He did not pause and scored the goal, though the Flyers would lose the shootout, and the game.

“I guess it’s something I obviously have to deal with – being a black player playing a predominantly white sport. I’ve grown a lot playing in this league and throughout my whole life. I’m not going to dwell on that. It’s over with now,” Simmonds told The Philadelphia Inquirer

The incident drew harsh reactions from around the hockey world.

(This story includes a NNPA report from the AFRO-American newspapers.)

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