Soon after Joel Ward's Washington Capitals teammates swarmed him after his game-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, a number of people unleashed racial comments about Ward on Twitter.
Ward, one of the few black players in the NHL, was called the N-word in a number of posts.
According to CNN, Chirpstory, a site that can aggregate other people's Twitter posts, noted the posts, included the following:
--- "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."
Ward, 31, told USA Today that he had never heard racist remarks during his four years in the NHL, and he was not aware of these comments until teammate Jeff Halpern told him.
He said the comments were "shocking to see, but it didn't ruin my day."
The NHL, the Capitals and the Bruins responded.
"The racially charged comments distributed via digital media following last night's game were ignorant and unacceptable," the NHL said in a statement Thursday. "The people responsible for these comments have no place associating themselves with our game."
In their statement, the Bruins called the Tweets "classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization."
Capitals owner Ted Leonsis was more outspoken in his comments on his blog.
"What these people have said and done is unforgivable. I hope they are now publicly identified and pay a huge price for their beliefs," he said. "There should be zero tolerance for this kind of hate mongering. We will as an organization support Joel Ward. He has been a great teammate and a great citizen.
"He is now the star of stars in our city for his heroics (Wednesday) night. He is a friend and a fantastic player -- who delivered -- as advertised for us and our fans in the playoffs."
Ward, a black Canadian whose parents emigrated from Barbados, said he's not afraid for his safety as the Capitals move ahead in the Stanley Cup playoffs, according to the USA Today report.