The group of fans who taunted Devante Smith-Pelly on Saturday night won’t be doing any more heckling at United Center.
The Chicago Blackhawks announced Monday they have reached out to the four fans who directed racist chants at Smith-Pelly and informed them they are no longer welcome at home games.
“Racist comments and other inappropriate behavior are not tolerated by the Chicago Blackhawks,” the team said in a statement.
The incident occurred in the third period of Saturday’s game against the Washington Capitals, when Smith-Pelly went to the penalty box after a fight. According to a Capitals spokesman, several fans started chanting the word “basketball” at the African-American winger, invoking the stereotype that basketball is a predominately “black” sport while hockey is reserved for white people.
“It’s pretty obvious what that means,” Smith-Pelly said Sunday when asked about the racist chants. “It’s not a secret.”
Shortly after the game, Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called for the fans to be banned from NHL arenas.
Blackhawks forward Anthony Duclair, who also is black, delivered a similar condemnation Sunday.
“It’s not OK,” Duclair said. “Whether it happens to Devante Smith-Pelly or a random person on the street, you should be comfortable in your own skin and gender and nationality or religion, your beliefs. Everyone’s equal. Everyone should love each other.”
Perhaps Chicago’s swift, firm response will dissuade fans from making similarly disparaging remarks in the future.