The NHL has suspended Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw one game “for making use of a homophobic slur” during Game 4 of his team’s first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues.
The league announced Shaw will be required the undergo sensitivity training.
Shaw was also fined $5,000 for “directing an inappropriate gesture at the on-ice officials during the same game.”
Said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell, “While Mr. Shaw was apologetic and remorseful for both the offensive comments and the inappropriate gesture directed at the on-ice officials, he must be held accountable for his actions. The emotion of the moment cannot and will not be a mitigating factor for the conduct that is expected of an NHL player.”
You Can Play, an organization that “works to ensure the safety and inclusion of all in sports - including LGBT athletes, coaches and fans,” released a statement saying it agreed with the NHL's stance on Shaw. On Tuesday night, the organization tweeted it had reached out to the league.
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.
"All of us at You Can Play were saddened and offended to see Andrew Shaw’s use of homophobic slurs during an NHL game. We wholeheartedly support the NHL’s decision to discipline Mr. Shaw. After four years of working with You Can Play, NHL players can no longer use ignorance as an excuse for not understanding the power of their words and the effect they have on their teammates, fans and the LGBT community. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the NHL, the Blackhawks and Mr. Shaw as we work to finally eradicate homophobia in hockey culture."
"I’m sure he feels awfully bad about it, but we have to make sure that stuff isn’t part of our game," Wingels told the San Jose Mercury News. "We’ll let the respective channels deal with it however they want to.”
After taking a late penalty, Shaw was seen on video screaming, “[expletive] [gay slur], [expletive] you!” from the penalty box.
“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 saying they were “extremely disappointed” in Shaw’s actions.
Shaw met with reporters Wednesday as the team departed for St. Louis for Game 5 and was emotional in addressing the issue.
"I get it. It’s a hurtful word," Shaw said. "It’s 2016 now. It’s time that everyone is treated equally. It’s a hurtful word, I know that. I’m sorry and I want to apologize."
Added Shaw, "Emotions got the best of me and I didn’t get any sleep. It was tough on me. You know, I’m upset with myself, obviously."
He also apologized to Chicago Tribune Blackhawks beat reporter Chris Hine. Hine recently informed readers he was gay in a in a column about the NFL and homophobia in sports and wrote a piece on why Shaw’s words were troubling for equality in sports.
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.
In 2011, the NHL faced a similar situation when Sean Avery accused Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds of using a gay slur. Simmonds denied the accusation and Campbell said, “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.”
As for the fine, Shaw also used an obscene gesture by flipping off on-ice officials after taking the penalty.
The 24-year-old Shaw has won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks and is slated to be a restricted free agent this summer. The Blackhawks are down 3-1 to the Blues and will face elimination in Thursday’s Game 5.
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