Four fans attending the Washington Capitals-Chicago Blackhawks game was ejected from the United Center for directing racially charged taunts at Caps forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
The fans changed “basketball, basketball, basketball” towards Smith-Pelly while he was in the penalty box in the third period, according to Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post.
An off-ice official confirmed the taunts and the fans were removed from the arena. The Chicago Blackhawks released a statement apologizing to Smith-Pelly and the Washington Capitals organization.
Statement on the incident at tonight's game pic.twitter.com/7o02AaLQwz
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 18, 2018
Capitals’ head coach Barry Trotz spoke to reporters following the sorting out of the incident.
“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Trotz said, per Tarik El-Bashir of NBC Sports Washington. “I think it’s disgusting. There’s no place for it. The athletes in our country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”
Trotz said he will meet with Smith-Pelly privately about the matter.
Smith-Pelly, 25, is in his first season with the Capitals and seventh in the NHL. Earlier this week, Smith-Pelly squirted a bottle of water at a heckling fan while he sat in the penalty box in Minnesota.