A few months ago, Philadelphia Flyers Flyers defensman Chris Pronger said his team was a “bunch of good, clean wholesome guys who are always on their best behavior.” Last night Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds proved him wrong by calling dapper Rangers wing Sean Avery, “a fucking faggot.”
Avery confirmed Simmonds, 23, called him the homophobic slur, saying, “To be here now having to answer the questions about what he did is disappointing for me. I’m disappointed for him.”
Simmonds, one of the few African-Americans in hockey, was himself the victim of prejudice recently when a fan threw a banana on the ice at a recent Red Wings/Flyers game. He didn’t admit to using the slur but didn’t deny it either: “Honestly, we were going back and forth for a while there,” he told ESPN. “I don’t recall everything that I did say to him but he said to me some things I didn’t like and maybe I said some things that he didn’t like. I can’t recall every single word I said.”
Despite hockey’s reputation for being an aggressive and sometimes violent sport Avery, who’s been a vocal ally of the gay community, thinks such an outburst should be taken as seriously as it is in other sports. In April, Kobe Bryant was fined $100,000 for using the same term against a referee. “Ten years ago, maybe it wasn’t so much an issue,” Avery said. “But it’s certainly an issue politically with people in the game. And just in life in general.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league was investigating the incident. “We have [the] ability to discipline for language used on the ice,” Daly told ESPNNewYork.com, although the league has never used it to penalize a player for making homophobic remarks.
Image via Anna Rodriguez