Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw apologized Wednesday for a homophobic remark he shouted near the end of Game 4 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference quarterfinals Tuesday night.
“I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box," Shaw said. "When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances. I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful and I will learn from my mistake."
We're used to seeing violence in the hockey ring. But the tantrum Shaw threw Tuesday night was much more offensive than the typical brawl. With just over two minutes left in the playoff game between the defending champion Blackhawks and rival St. Louis Blues, Shaw was called for interference -- a penalty that all but secured a win for St. Louis, which at that point led the game 4-3.
Despite the fact that the penalty was blatant, Shaw went on to throw a profanity-laced fit that included a homophobic slur. First, as Shaw skated to the penalty box, he flashed his middle fingers twice at a referee.
Then, once in the box, his outburst continued. The 24-year-old slammed a water bottle on the ground, banged his stick against the glass and shouted what appeared to be, "F*** you, you f***ing f****t."
Shaw's actions drew quick attention on social media, including from Chris Hine, who covers the Blackhawks for the Chicago Tribune.
“As some of you may know, I'm a gay sportswriter -- who covers the
#Blackhawks," Hine wrote on Twitter. "I like Andrew Shaw and have a good relationship with him ... But what he said tonight was inexcusable and is one of the reasons why gay athletes everywhere stay closeted and often live lives of torment."
When asked if he used the slur in a post-game interview, Shaw initially told reporters he couldn't remember. "Emotions were high," he said. "I don’t know what was said. Obviously, I was upset with the call. It was late in the game like that. I wasn’t happy with the call."
Video of the outburst, which was blasted across the internet, helped jog Shaw's memory, however, and both he and the Blackhawks organization have since issued statements about the incident. In its own statement, the Blackhawks said it was "extremely disappointed" in Shaw's actions.
"His comments do not reflect what we stand for as an organization," the organization said. "We are proud to have an inclusive and respectful environment, and to support various initiatives such as the You Can Play Project and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association. We will use this opportunity to further educate our players and organization moving forward, so that we all may learn from it."
Shaw's obscene outburst comes just two weeks after the Blackhawk's announced its partnership with You Can Play Project, an organization dedicated to ensuring safety and inclusion of LGBT athletes, coaches and fans in sports.
In a post to Twitter, You Can Play said it was aware of the incident and "will be reaching out to the NHL immediately to assist in an appropriate response."
In addition to the suspension and fine, the NHL will require that Shaw attend sensitivity training.
"While Mr. Shaw was apologetic and remorseful for both the offensive comments and the inappropriate gesture directed at the on-ice officials, he must be held accountable for his actions," Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior executive vice president of hockey operations, said in a statement. "The emotion of the moment cannot and will not be a mitigating factor for the conduct that is expected of an NHL player."
As USA Today reports, the NHL has never had an openly gay player.