Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward says he's not bothered by the racist tweets that greeted his series-winning goal in the opening round of the playoffs.
Ward, one of a handful of black players in the NHL, was the target of numerous racial insults on Twitter moments after he scored the overtime Game 7 goal Wednesday against Boston.
Ward said Friday it's a "few people that just made a couple of terrible comments. ... I know what I signed up for. I'm a black guy playing a predominantly white sport. It's just going to come with the territory. I'd feel naive or foolish to think that it doesn't exist. It's a battle I think will always be there."
Fans gave Ward a standing ovation at the start of Friday's practice.
Ward also discussed the issue with WGFX Radio in Nashville, where he played before joining the Caps as a free agent.
“One of my teammates that was on the plane just kind of gave me head’s up about it," Ward told the station. "He kind of just caught wind of it somehow, and I didn’t really know what it was or what was going on. He just said a couple of rough comments are being made on the Twitter feed and different blogs or what have you.
"... But when I got home, I checked it out and, I mean, it didn’t really bother me," he continued. "The realization of it is I am black and I’m playing a predominantly white sport. And, I mean, you hope that doesn’t exist but realistically it does and racism will exist -- it’s just, you try to limit that as much as you can, especially in our sport of hockey, which we love. I mean, it is what it is. There’s just a couple of -- you know, I don’t hate the city of Boston or the team or anything -- it’s just a couple bad apples that ruined it. The more upsetting part for me is the fact that it took away the spotlight of the other players, like our goalie, who played unbelievable all series and deserves all the recognition possible. Now it just so happens everyone wants to talk about the few racial comments.”