News

Fans ejected from Blackhawks game for racist taunts directed at Smith-Pelly

Four fans were ejected from Saturday night’s Blackhawks game for racist taunts directed at Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly.

Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box midway through the third period when the fans chanted, “Basketball, basketball basketball,” a Capitals spokesperson told the Washington Post.

RELATED STORIES
Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane lead the way as Blackhawks snap 8-game skid
Patrick Kane mired in scoring slump as Blackhawks continue plummeting

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I think it’s disgusting. There’s no place for it. The athletes in our country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”

Washington Capitals right wing Devante Smith-Pelly (25) argues with Chicago Blackhawks fans from the penalty box during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Chicago. The Blackhawks won 7-1.
| Jeff Haynes/AP

Trotz said Smith-Pelly was “a little bit upset.”

“We were made aware of an incident at tonight’s game involving a small group of attendees who made harmful comments directed at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly,” a Hawks spokesperson said. “The fans were immediately removed, and we apologize to Smith-Pelly and the Washington Capitals organization. We are committed to providing an inclusive environment for everyone who attends our games, and these actions will never be tolerated.”

Crawford update

Corey Crawford was on the ice for about 40 minutes last Monday in Arizona, participating in the team’s morning skate and taking live shots from teammates for the first time since being placed on injured reserve with a head injury just after Christmas.

He hasn’t been on the ice since. Whether that’s a setback or not, Joel Quenneville deemed it the “status quo,” which means the Hawks goaltender is still a long way off from playing. Crawford did work out off the ice on Saturday while his teammates skated.

Asked Friday if Crawford’s injury is in any way career-threatening — a dramatic but fair question given the secrecy surrounding him and the non-existent timetable for his return — Quenneville seemed to downplay it.

“Not sure about that,” he said, dismissively. “Too far out.”

Quenneville remained optimistic that Crawford will play this season, and said there still are no plans to shut him down even though the Hawks are out of playoff contention.

“His health is going to dictate the answer to that question, and we’ll go from there,” Quenneville said. “Right now, we don’t have to make any other decision other than trying to get him healthy.”

Hey, Berube

Everybody was happy for Jeff Glass when he finally got his NHL chance after more than 12 seasons in the AHL and KHL. Even J-F Berube. But Berube couldn’t help but feel a little jealousy, too. After all, if Berube hadn’t been hurt shortly before Crawford was, he would have gotten the call-up, not Glass.

“It’s easy to look at it and be down on yourself and kind of feel bad about it,” Berube said. “But [there was] nothing I could do. It gave a good chance for Glasser to come up. I’m really happy for him, that he got his shot.”

Now it’s Berube’s shot. Anton Forsberg started Saturday night, but the Hawks likely will give Berube a look down the stretch to see what they have in him. Berube has played in 22 NHL games over the past three seasons, including a relief appearance for the Hawks earlier this season. He had just returned to the IceHogs last week, stopping 27 of 29 shots in both of his appearances, both narrow losses.

“You never want to go down for such a long time during a season, but I worked hard during the rehab process,” Berube said. “I feel like I’m a better goalie than before I got hurt, because I got to work on such little details.”

Follow me on Twitter @MarkLazerus
Email: mlazerus@suntimes.com