A visiting black player was taunted by four male fans shouting "basketball, basketball, basketball'' Saturday night during the Chicago Blackhawks' game against the Washington Capitals.
Washington's Devante Smith-Pelly was serving a major penalty for fighting Chicago's Connor Murphy when the fans taunted him in the penalty box. An off-ice official sitting next to him notified building security, and the fans were ejected.
"We were made aware of an incident at tonight's game involving a small group of attendees who made harmful comments directed at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly,'' the Blackhawks said in a statement. "The fans were immediately removed and we apologize to Smith-Pelly and the Washington Capitals organization. We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for everyone who attends out games and these actions will never be tolerated."
Smith-Pelly wasn't available for comment. Coach Barry Trotz said the player was "a little upset.''
``There's absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,'' Trotz said. ``I think it's disgusting.''
The 25-year-old Smith-Pelly is in his first season with the Capitals. He also has played for Anaheim, Montreal and New Jersey.