Brandon Manning of the Bakersfield Condors (Edmonton Oilers affiliate) used a racist slur towards Ontario Reign winger Bokandji Imama (LA Kings affiliate) on Monday. Manning was given a game misconduct at the time “under the provisions of AHL Rule 23.9 for use of a racial slur towards an opponent.”
The American Hockey League suspended Manning for five games in addition to the game misconduct. Manning will miss Bakersfield’s games Wednesday (Jan. 22) vs. San Jose, Friday (Jan. 24) at Tucson, Saturday (Jan. 25) at Tucson, Jan. 31 vs. Ontario, and Feb. 1 at Stockton.
Manning issued a statement where he acknowledged his mistake and promised “to be better.”
Imama was gracious enough to speak to Manning directly after the game in person, which Manning was “very grateful for,” according to his statement. “He allowed me to apologize and I took full responsibility for what I said.” Imama was born in Montreal after his parents immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Keith Gretzky, an Assistant General Manager for the Edmonton Oilers and the General Manager of the Condors, released a short statement after the AHL’s decision, saying the organization supported the decision and will work to better educate their players.
The rule Manning violated, 23.9 Other Infractions That Could Result in a Game Misconduct, calls for an immediate ejection from the game and the AHL President has the power to dole out supplemental discipline – in this case a five-game suspension – if he deems necessary.
[T]he following list of infractions can also result in a game misconduct penalty being assessed:
(i) interfering with or striking a spectator.
(ii) racial taunts or slurs
(iii) spitting on or at an opponent or spectator
[T]he Referee shall report all such infractions to the President who shall have full power to impose such further penalty as he shall deem appropriate.
With the NHL embroiled in recent revelations of racism from Bill Peters, the former head coach of the Calgary Flames, the hockey world as a whole has slowly been waking up to the reality that players of color are far too familiar with.
The aftermath of the incident may be cause for some hope. The AHL’s swift action, the Oilers’ organization pledge to improve their educational efforts, and Manning’s frank and open apology (especially when compared to Bill Peters’ statement) are promising signs.
It’s important to note that–although we’ve heard from the AHL, Keith Gretzky, and Brandon Manning–Bokondji Imama’s voice has been absent from the conversation.
He is certainly under no obligation to speak publicly about the incident, making it even more crucial for everyone to remember that no matter what the media, fans, and front office staff say: it’s the minority players (especially those who aren’t ready or safe enough to speak out) who are most affected by the sport’s racism and discrimination. They’re the only ones who can know or decide whether things are changing. Hopefully, it is, and hopefully, those changes are for the better.
Headline photo: NBC Sports Chicago
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