While the garbage on Twitter targeting the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban after Game 1 of the Bruins-Habs series Thursday is about as gutless as you’ll find, don’t paint the entire city of Boston with the same racist brush.
In the end, these were the misguided social media musings of a handful of small-minded idiots, not a general collective message from the majority of Bruins supporters or, for that matter, the citizenry of Beantown.
Of course, given that a similar incident took place there two years ago, it has become a very sensitive issue in New England’s largest metropolis. And rightly so.
Back in 2012, Washington’s Joel Ward, who had just scored the overtime winner in Game 7 to eliminate the then-defending champion Bruins at the TD Garden, was besieged with racial slurs on twitter, many using the “N-word.” It seems these bitter fans, pissed that the Capitals foot-soldier forward had just beaten Tim Thomas for the win, decided that Ward’s skin colour was to blame for the Bruins’ elimination.
After the Caps 2-1 victory in extra time, Ward called his buddy Kevin Weekes, the former NHL goalie-turned-Hockey Night in Canada analyst. The conversation, which first revolved around Ward’s heroics, quickly took a more sober tone when the topic of the acidic tweets came up.
Weekes, like Ward and Subban is black. And he was outraged.
With good reason.
Weekes told the Toronto Sun at the time that this was the same type of racist venom that he himself had been targeted with. Only these attacks were coming from north of the border, not from Boston.
“Let me put it in a Canadian perspective,” Weekes said. “There are some Saturdays when I’m doing Hockey Night or we’re doing our (After Hours) interview segment and I check Twitter to find stuff like that.”
Do some messages contain the “N-word?”
“Oh ya,” he replied, “And sometimes they do it indirectly, too.”
“I’ll get (garabage) like ‘What are you doing covering hockey? You should be covering basketball.’”
This past week, you would have thought the racist comments uttered by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling — who subsequently, and correctly, was banned from the NBA for life — would have served as a lesson for small-minded people to smarten up. Obviously some losers didn’t get the message.
While the public support of Subban has been encouraging, Canadians who claim “that would never happen up here” while pointing an accusing finger at Bostonians — or Americans per se — are simply naive. Just ask Weekes, who has been forced to put up with his own share of racism here in the Great White North.
MAYOR MARTY FIRES BACK
Count Boston mayor Marty Walsh among those angered by the comments directed at Subban.
“This is a disgrace. These racist comments are not reflective of Boston and are not reflective of Bruins fans,” Walsh said on Friday.
“I’ve said before that the best hockey in the world happens when the Bruins and Canadiens play each other, and there is no room for this kind of ignorance here. (Montreal) Mayor (Denis) Coderre and I made a friendly wager on the series and we closed the conversation by wishing each other the best.
“I would hope that fans on both sides would follow this example.”
MAC TO BE BACK?
While there is no shortage of NHL teams with coaching vacancies looking to snap up Todd McLellan, San Jose general manager Doug Wilson wants him to stay. “My recommendation is that our coaching staff be part of this going forward,” Wilson told reporters on Friday ... The final decision will rest in the hands of owner Hasso Plattner, who might also question his GM’s future with the team. On that front, Wilson understands his own job will be evaluated. “Absolutely and it should be,” Wilson said. “What needs to be done for this organization is what’s right for the organization. Nobody is bigger than this organization. We put a plan in place a year ago, we talked about it six months ago. We now have some very critical (choices) to make.” ... Wilson pulled no punches in criticizing the Sharks top players for not producing in the final four games of a series in which they blew a 3-0 lead to the Los Angeles Kings. Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture — none scored in the final three games. “With all due respect to James Sheppard and Matty Irwin, they can’t be your only goal scorers the last three games,” Wilson said. “You can’t go 0-for-16 on your power play.” ... Wilson’s summation of yet another Sharks collapse? “This is not a nick or a scratch, this is an open wound,” he said, adding that “this one should hurt. I do feel for our fans and organization. It should not have happened. It did. We will make some decisions going forward. There are options. Status quo is not one of them.” ... One final thought from the miffed GM: “When you’re up 3-0 in a series, you step on their throat and put them away.” The Sharks didn’t. Golf, anyone?
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
Another example of why goalie interference should be eligible for video review: On James Neal’s second-period goal in Game 1 of the New York-Pittsburgh series Friday, replays confirmed to the referees that Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin did not strike the puck with a high stick. It did, however, appear to hinder the ability of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist to grab the puck with his glove. Unfortunately for the Rangers, goaltender interference is not reviewable — yet. Not saying the goal would have been waved off, but it would have been interesting.