Flames appalled at Simmonds incident

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:42 PM ET

CALGARY - As a Francophone, Alex Tanguay has heard his share of insults.

The Calgary Flames left winger said nothing he’s had hurled at him is as disgusting as what Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds experienced Thursday night in London, Ont. A fan threw a banana at Simmonds, who is black, as he readied to partake in the shootout of his team’s pre-season game against the Detroit Red Wings.

“It doesn’t faze me at all. It’s funny,” Tanguay said of things he’s heard from fans. “But the banana incident is way more disrespectful than what they can say to a French guy. I don’t understand why somebody would do something like that. Fans can boo people all they want, but you shouldn’t have anything said about your skin colour.”

Simmonds, who scored on his shootout chance in the 4-3 loss, said via statement Friday, “It was unfortunate that this incident happened, but I am above this sort of stuff” and wanted to put the issue in the past.

However, players from around the league were aghast.

“It’s unfortunate things like that are still happening in today’s world. Quite frankly, it’s embarrassing,” said Flames centre Matt Stajan. “The person who did it — I don’t know how else to put this — is an idiot.

“Hopefully, they know who did and the guy can be used as an example. That’s just wrong. We’re all equals, and everybody should be treated the same. We’ve come so far, so for something like that to happen is awful.”

Added Tanguay: “We’re all athletes regardless of the colour of our skin, and that shouldn’t be part of the game.”

The incident put hockey front and centre around North America and, unfortunately, not in a positive light.

“Anybody who loves hockey and loves the game is probably embarrassed about it,” Stajan said. “It’s one of the sports you least expect it to happen. There’s still racism out there, and that’s unfortunate, but it’s shocking to see that.

Gary Bettman, commissioner of the NHL said via satement: “We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our players and for the game. The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario.”

A point Tanguay agreed with.

“It’s just one stupid fan,” he said. “It just takes one person to do something stupid on that, but it shouldn’t have an affect on the rest of the people.”


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