By Ian Oland
Saturday night, Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly was subject to racially charged taunts from a group of Blackhawks fans sitting by the penalty box. The four fans were ejected from the game and condemned by the Capitals and Blackhawks as well as the NHL as a whole in the hours preceeding.
Sunday after Caps practice, Smith-Pelly addressed the incident publicly for the first time and called the fans’ comments “disgusting.”
“We can’t brush [racism] under the rug,” Smith-Pelly said. “It’s, you’ve got to start calling people out and making sure people see other people’s true colors. So, that’s what I’m trying, to get the conversation started, and show whoever these people were their true colors.”
His full comments are below.
Devante Smith-Pelly on the incident last night in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/Oz9qfFWMQH
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 18, 2018
Can you walk us through what happened last night?
Devante Smith-Pelly: Was in the box, and I just heard some racially charged chanting. You know you could tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset. It was a little different from the night before in Minnesota where that guy was just joking around and didn’t really cross a line. What was said this time around crossed the line, so you can tell by my reaction.
What did your dad say about the incident?
Devante Smith-Pelly: We’ve talked about this before and it’s happened in hockey before. It’s happened to people we personally know. We’ve had the conversation before. It’s just a few ignorant people being idiots. That’s it. So, we talked briefly. I mean, like I said, we’ve had the conversation before. It’s happened before. He just said it’s a few idiots being ignorant.
Did the fans say more than “basketball”?
Devante Smith-Pelly: No, that’s it. It’s pretty obvious what that means. It’s not really a secret. So, it’s just one word. That’s all it takes. Whether it’s that word or any other word. We got the idea. Or I got the idea. And I’m sure they got the idea too. Just one word and I guess that’s really all it takes.
How disappointing is it that this stuff still goes on?
Devante Smith-Pelly: Yeah, it’s disgusting. I don’t even really know. It’s sad that [it’s] 2018 we’re still talking about the same thing over and over. It’s sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago, were standing in the same spot, saying the same thing. You’d think that there’d be some sort of change or progression, but we’re still working towards it I guess. We’re going to keep working towards it.
The comment about basketball,have you heard that before in your career?
Devante Smith-Pelly: It happened one other time when I was younger at Penticton and I had the same reaction back then. But I didn’t really tell anyone about it. I guess I kind of just stood up and just brushed it off. We’re out of time now. We can’t brush it under the rug. It’s, you’ve got to start calling people out and making sure people see other people’s true colors. So, that’s what I’m trying, to get the conversation started, and show whoever these people were their true colors.
After DSP was drafted by Anaheim in 2010, played in a rookie tournament in Penticton, B.C. Heard a similar "basketball" comment. He was angry, but didn't tell anyone. But Saturday night … "We're at a time now where we can't brush it under the rug,"
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) February 18, 2018
Headline photo: @Capitals
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