“The words don’t hurt me at all,” Joel Ward, Capitals’ right winger, told WTOP of the racist tweets posted after his Game 7 playoff goal against Boston on Wednesday night. “I want the team to win, and that’s the main focus for me.”
Outrage online and in the media at the racist comments outnumbers the racial slurs themselves, but Ward looks to others who are hurt by the tarnished situation.
“I’m just more upset that it took accolades away from people like Braden Holtby,” Ward says of his goaltender teammate. “It’s just terrible.”
“But there was a lot of support from a lot of people,” he says. “Obviously you can’t control everybody. It is what it is.”
Ward received a text message from Bruin Rich Peverley following the wave of racially oriented comments, expressing his happiness for Ward and wishing the Capitals good luck in the team’s next series against the New York Rangers.
“We’re going to stick with the plan and keep it simple,” Ward says of the coming days.
D.C. Mayor Vince Gray said the comments were “very disappointing,” while speaking on WTOP’s “Ask the Mayor” program.
“It shows we still have in some parts of our society some very high levels of racism,” he says.
But this should be a teachable moment for hockey fans and youth players, he adds, pointing to youth programs like the Fort Dupont hockey league where coaches are trying to recruit more black players.
“This is a celebratory moment for African Americans,” Gray said. “This is a celebratory moment for the city.”
Ward coaches at Fort Dupont in Southeast D.C. The youth team, which wears Bruins colors to Ward’s discontent, will have to be without their coach as he prepares for the conference semifinals.