Wayne Simmonds and pal Chris Stewart signed with Liberec of the Czech Extraliga last week after a stint in Germany. On Sunday, in his third game with the team, Simmonds and his teammates traveled to Chomutov. After a fight with Miroslav Zálešák in the third period, some Chomutov fans began chanting "opice" toward Simmonds.
"Opice" translates to "monkey" in English.
Simmonds is no stranger to having to deal with racism in hockey. We saw last September when during a preseason game in London, Ontario, a fan tossed a banana peel onto the ice as he was skating in on a shootout attempt. Afterward, he told Frank Seravelli of the Philadelphia Daily News:
"When you're a black man playing in a predominantly white man's sport, you've got to come to expect things like that. Over the past 23 years of my life, I've come to expect some things like that. But I'm older and more mature now, I kind of just let things roll off [my back]. I try not to think about stuff like that."
In the aftermath of the chants, both teams released statements condemning the actions of some fans in attendance. Chomutov has also been fined 30,000 crowns, approximately $1500, by the Czech Ice Hockey Association Disciplinary Commission. The penalty was lower than it could have been because of the way the team reacted to the situation.
[Nick Cotsonika: Russian fans would rather see Alex Ovechkin than KHL game]
(UPDATE: Simmonds' agent spoke to Puck Daddy this afternoon. Read his comments here.)
Via Chomutov's website, here's their apology.
"We are disgusted by the behavior of a group of spectators who greatly damaged the reputation of the club. We would like to deeply apologize to the players and Mr. Simmonds," said Chomutov Marketing Director David Dinda.
"It was embarrassing, pathetic and small. I ask these people to not attend Chomutov hockey games. In fans like them we are not interested in. We'll do our best to find people who are the originators of this act and prevent them entry to the stadium." said Chomutov GM Jaroslav Veverka.
Via Liberec's website:
Ctibor Jecha, Liberec GM: "We highly appreciate the position of the leadership of Chomutov, which unambiguously condemned the behavior of a small group of fans and take action to prevent other similar expressions."
On Monday, Chomutov officials sent an official apology letter to Simmonds:
Credit to Simmonds for finding the strength to let this nonsensical behavior roll off his back. Also credit to Chomutov for denouncing the actions of a group of fans and promising to prevent this type of behavior in the future.
Stick-tap Patrik Pastyrcak for the translations
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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