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Andrew Shaw apologizes for using gay slur

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw apologized for “insensitive remarks”  he made Tuesday night during his team’s Game 4 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

After taking a late penalty, Shaw was seen on video screaming, “[expletive] [gay slur], [expletive] you!” from the penalty box. Following the game Shaw indicated he didn’t know what he said. Wednesday in a statement released by the Blackhawks, Shaw took responsibility for his actions.

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“I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box. When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances,” Shaw said. “I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful and I will learn from my mistake."

The Blackhawks also released a statement, expressing their dissatisfaction in Shaw’s comments.

“We are extremely disappointed in Andrew Shaw's actions last night,” the team said. “His comments do not reflect what we stand for as an organization.  We are proud to have an inclusive and respectful environment, and to support various initiatives such as the You Can Play Project and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association.  We will use this opportunity to further educate our players and organization moving forward, so that we all may learn from it."

Shaw also met with reporters Wednesday as the team left for St. Louis and was reportedly emotional. Chicago is down 3-1 in their series and will face elimination Thursday.

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said the team could use Shaw's actions to teach the rest of the group about the impact of such language. 

In early April, the Blackhawks filmed a message with You Can Play, an organization that “works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports - including LGBT athletes, coaches and fans.”

Said goaltender Scott Darling in the video, "We believe athletes should be judged by their character, work ethic, and talent. Not their sexual orientation, or gender identity."

The Blackhawks have also twice taken the Stanley Cup to Chicago’s gay pride parade.

The NHL is investigating Shaw for possible discipline on the matter. Any decision would run through the league’s department of hockey operations.

In 2011, Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds was accused of using a gay slur directed towards Sean Avery. Simmonds denied the action and didn’t receive any supplemental discipline at the time.

Said NHL hockey operations director Colin Campbell in 2011:

“Since there are conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice, we have been unable to substantiate with the necessary degree of certainty what was said and by whom. Specifically, Flyers Player Wayne Simmonds has expressly denied using the homophobic slur he is alleged to have said."

“Additionally, none of the on-ice officials close to the altercation in question heard any inappropriate slurs uttered by either of the primary antagonists. In light of this, we are unable at this time to take any disciplinary action with respect to last night's events. To the extent we become aware of additional information conclusively establishing that an inappropriate slur was invoked, we are reserving the option to revisit the matter."

Chris Hine, who covers the Blackhawks for the Chicago Tribune, wrote on why Shaw’s remarks are troubling. Last month Hine informed readers he was gay in a column about the NFL and homophobia in sports.

Wrote Hine in his piece about Shaw’s words:

I was called that growing up before I even realized I was gay. When you're closeted and thinking about coming out, you have nightmares about friends or family members using that word and making you feel like an outcast. It hurts when your friends use that word in a teasing manner. It's a whole different feeling to have people direct that word at you with contempt. I've had that feeling.

Now put yourself in the shoes of a closeted gay athlete. You're in a locker room or on a playing field, and you hear your teammates use that word. You start thinking, "Is this how they really feel about gay people? Is that what they would call me if I came out to them? Would I still be a member of this team? Would my career be over?"

That word is why gay athletes everywhere hide their sexual identity and often live lives of torment. It's why some contemplate suicide and develop emotional and psychological issues they might never rectify.

On Wednesday, Hine tweeted that Shaw personally apologized for the remark.

On Tuesday, after the incident You Can Play tweeted it had reached out to the NHL to “assist in an appropriate response.”

Patrick Burke, who works with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is co-founder of the organization. Calgary Flames president of hockey operations Brian Burke is on its advisory board as is Tommy Wingels, a forward for the San Jose Sharks.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!