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Wayne Simmonds to meet with NHL over using homophobic slur

Sep 27, 2011, 12:03 PM EDT

Wayne Simmonds AP

Things are getting a bit worse for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds’ alleged use of a homophobic slur against Rangers forward Sean Avery caught the attention of the hockey world last night. After what Simmonds had to deal with London, Ontario over the weekend in seeing a disgusting racist display made at his expense, seeing the tables turned like this makes the entire situation more difficult to handle.

Simmonds will be meeting with the NHL to discuss the on-ice incident involving Avery. While many fans are thinking that Brendan Shanahan and his hot hand at dealing out suspensions could see Simmonds taken out of action for a period of time for the utterance, this situation doesn’t fall under Shanahan’s “player safety” disciplinary role. Instead, Simmonds will speak with Colin Campbell about the situation.

With a suspension seemingly unlikely, Simmonds would likely face a $2,500 fine for the slur. $2,500 is the maximum fine that can be assessed under the current CBA. We’ve seen the NBA put the hammer down in situations like this, fining superstar Kobe Bryant $100,000 for using a similar slur against an official during a game.

Making things all the more interesting, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is getting in contact with the Philadelphia Flyers about what Simmonds had to say. GLAAD released this statement on the situation today.

“Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink,” said GLAAD Acting President Mike Thompson. “The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”

While these sorts of things are likely said often between players on the ice to get under each other’s skin, it doesn’t make it right and getting busted using such language makes everyone look horrible. Even worse yet, it’s nothing new for Avery to hear on the ice from opponents as he’s said before that he’s heard it from players looking to get under his skin.

Avery said such slurs remain in wide use in hockey, too. He suspects they may be used against him even more now that he is speaking out on behalf of same-sex marriage.

“People have been calling me names for 10 years just because I like to wear nice suits,” he said. “It’s going to take a lot to get me upset or to get under my skin. I’m O.K.”

Using this kind of language against opponents, be it homophobic slurs or racially-charged slurs, isn’t new and guys have had action taken against them in the past for doing so. Chris Simon was suspended for three games back in 1997 for using a racial slur against Mike Grier.

With as many cameras and as much on-ice audio as we’ve got access to these days, these kinds of situations aren’t likely to go away, but the league has to be smart about how it’s viewed by those who might be warming up to the game. As Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy said today in his great take on this situation:

Forget the impact on fans or Sean Avery or the NHL’s image. When you get bananas thrown at black players or any player gets caught using a gay slur on camera, the essential question is whether that behavior is preventing someone from trying out for a team or skating locally; about whether than behavior is discouraging someone from embracing the game.

This kind of backwards and neanderthal speech, even if used in some horrible form of taunting or pestering an opponent, is the sort of thing that no one should be able to just brush off as “boys being boys.” It’s not likely that things will change, but perhaps now players are going to be more mindful about their methodology for getting another player’s goat and perhaps get a bit of understanding for being a human in the process.

Getting in a guy’s head doesn’t mean you have to go into those deep, dark places for insults. Like a comedian might get by on swearing to get a laugh, there are guys like Bill Cosby that succeeded without ever having to curse or use other foul language. Aggravating an opponent into taking a dumb penalty is an art form and one that doesn’t necessarily need such shameful language.

  1. gscheelar - Sep 27, 2011 at 12:55 PM

    If Simmonds said stuff like this, he should be ashamed. But consider the source. Sean Avery does not exactly have a great reputation. If it were to come down to a “he said, she said” situation, I would believe Simmonds before Avery every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    This is all about getting under his skin for future meetings between the Flyers and Rangers who will be fighting for playoff position all year long. And don’t really like each other that much.

    • nikolainyr - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:36 PM

      The video on it was pretty clear on what was being said (from both sides).
      Tempers were hot in that game and there was a lot of build-up to that.
      Sestito was taking runs at Ranger players. Avery was caught on camera saying he was going to f***ing kill Giroux if Sestito didn’t cut it out. Sestito took a run at NYR Deveaux which sparked a brawl. In that brawl, Avery and Simmonds got together and Sean threw one punch too many after Simmonds was down and a ref was trying to break it up. Wayne threw the insult back because he was mad about what he felt was a sucker punch.
      I’ll admit I’m a fan of both players, I followed Simmonds when he was in LA and have loved Avery since he came to NY.
      For those upset that Avery told the media what was said on the ice, Avery was directly asked if Simmonds said that. Given Sean’s very public support of the gay community and his prior statements against use of that word as an insult, it’s not surprising how he handled this with the press.
      I don’t think Simmonds is a bad guy, and hope he doesn’t get more than a fine for this. It was very much a heat of the moment exchange and only two words in the midst of battle. Like Avery said, he’s been hearing it for 10 years. I’m sure he’ll feel fine about it when he gets home to his SI swimsuit model gf, Hilary Rhoda

  2. mjdkid100 - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    I think its pretty clear what happened here. Avery is an a$$ and Simmonds probably called him a fa*g**. I doubt it was to slur the homophobic community. Kind of like the South Park episode.

    Where’s the inquiry into someone throwing the banana on the ice?

    • icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:30 PM

      They can’t ‘find’ the fan. Utterly ridiculous. Who knows what Avery said. Usually that stuff stays on the ice. But Avery has to do what Avery does. It’s only a matter of time before he gets what is coming to him.

      • lewdood - Sep 27, 2011 at 5:28 PM

        Leave it to Avery to have GLAAD fight his fights for him now. He’d hide behind Johnny Weir if he had to…

  3. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Sep 27, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    Am I the only that thinks this nontroversy is a bit ridiculous? Stuff like this happens multiple times in every game at every level of hockey. I’ve heard Iginla call an opponent a “f*cking p*ssy” and there was no uproar from the press and the women’s rights groups. What’s the big deal here? Everybody needs to calm down about this

  4. lewdood - Sep 27, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    GLAAD should be completely ignored by Simmonds, the Flyers and the NHL. They’re rapidly descending to Greenpeace / PETA territory with the way they scan the morning news everyday to play “language police” with anybody who says anything they deem objectionable. Regardless of the purity of their intents, their methods of grandstanding and marching anybody who crosses them into an “apology tour” is ridiculous.

    If they want to improve equal rights they need to focus on empowering the LGBT community so that the words that people use no longer affect them. Then, maybe the next gay athlete who gets called a slur will give a post-game comment of “Yeah, I’m gay, and XXXX called me a slur. That’s alright though. I’m proof a gay athlete can play professional sports at the top level and be a success, and I know I’m inspiring other othletes that they don’t need to hide who they are in order to succeed in sports, and in life.” Maybe then the use of these slurs will become as rare as racial slurs.

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