WASHINGTON – Another highlight reel moment for a black hockey player was diluted Thursday, after the game- and series-winning goal from a Capitals winger was followed by a wave of racially charged comments online.
Moments after right winger Joel Ward shoveled the puck past Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas in the second minute of overtime, hateful speech began popping up on Twitter.
Ward, who is black, had just scored on a rebound after teammate Mike Knuble’s breakaway shot, eliminating the Bruins from repeating their Stanley Cup championship and reinvigorating hopes that the Capitals lineup could make it beyond the conference semifinals for the first time since 1998.
There were 123 mentions on the social networking site around midnight Wednesday that included Ward and the N-word. Some users have deleted their comments, though they still appear in search engines.
The response from others expressing disgust at the tweets outweighs the comments themselves, but as of 3 p.m. Thursday, there were more than 8,000 hits on Google related to the racist comments against Ward — a third of the more than 21,000 posts about the goal itself.
“We are aware of some of the racial comments that were made following our overtime victory last night and are outraged by those individuals who expressed such ignorant comments,” said Sergey Kacharov, Capitals spokesman, in a written statement. “We find such comments to be totally unacceptable.”
ESPN NHL reports the Bruins, in a statement, said the organization was “very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night. These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization.”
Some of the ensuing tweets simply expressed joy about the outcome of the game. Others noted what they might be inferring by mentioning Ward’s race and the town in which he was playing. Still others posted unabashed comments with their sentiments on Ward’s race.
(Editor’s Note: After consideration, WTOP has removed tweets that contained racial slurs and profanity.)