LONDON, Ontario _ Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds, one of the NHL’s few black players, had a banana thrown at him from the stands as he started the shoot-out against Detroit on Thursday night at the Labatt Centre.
The arena is operated by Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of the Flyers’ parent company, Comcast-Spectacor.
The banana sailed past Simmonds and he kept his concentration and scored, but the Flyers lost in the shoot-out, 4-3.
“At first, I thought I better get another shot if I miss,” Simmonds said in the Flyers’ locker room after the game. “But I did score, so that was good.”
Simmonds 23, who came to the Flyers in the deal that sent Mike Richards to Los Angeles in the summer, was asked if he ever had anything like this happen to him that had racial overtones.
“I’ve never had a banana thrown at me before. That’s a first for me,” he said. “I guess it’s something I obviously have to deal with _ being a black player playing a predominantly white sport. I’ve grown a lot playing in this league and throughout my whole life. I’m not going to dwell on that. It’s over with now.”
Peter Luukko, president of Comcast Spectacor, was at the game. He said the person who threw the banana was not caught.
"Unfortunately, we weren't able to identify the individual," he said.
Added Luukko: "We certainly don't condone such a foolish act (like this) as a player could potentially be seriously injured. This is ninth time we have played here in London and the fans have always been wonderful to us. The Flyers consider this our 'home away from home' and that's because this city, the fans and this spectacular arena have been so supportive of the Philadelphia Flyers."
On Twitter, fans voiced their disgust at the incident and showed their support for Simmonds.
“Really hope he knows that here in Philly, we aren’t like that,” tweeted Levenitup. “Just gonna give him louder applause when I see them play.”
“Total disrespect for the man and the game. Horrible,” tweeted LordFudge.
“Jeez, where was this game played? Mississippi circa 1955?” PhillySportPhan tweeted. “This is ridiculous….”
One personr (Canada_gill) tweeted that it was a “black eye for all hockey fans cuz of one racist idiot.”
_ Sam Carchidi
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