Oiler great Grant Fuhr shocked by racist tweets

For the second time this season, the ugliness of racism is tainting the NHL. We talk to former Oilers star goalie Grant Fuhr. The first black player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Joel Ward continued his reputation for strong playoff performance with an overtime goal Wednesday for Washington. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Edmonton Oiler goaltending great Grant Fuhr was shocked by a racist outburst on Twitter this week after a black player scored a series-ending overtime goal in the NHL playoffs.

Overtime hero Joel Ward of the Washington Capitals scored against the Boston Bruins in Game 7, deciding the Eastern Conference quarter final playoff series Wednesday night.

Dozens of fans used social media afterwards to unleash racial slurs against Ward, some calling hockey a "white sport" and suggesting he should be playing basketball instead.

"You'd like to think we're in 2012 and that society has basically grown up a little bit," said Fuhr, the first black NHL player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"But apparently not."

Comments made anonymously

Fuhr, who described the incident as shocking and an eye-opener, agreed anonymity of social media played a big role.

"It's easy to make comments like that when you think you can hide," he said.

"There were a lot of good fans in Boston that went on and outed people," he said. "That was good to see."

The incident is the second time this season that racism has tainted the sport. 

During a pre-season game in London, Ontario in September between the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers, a fan threw a banana peel in the direction of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

Despite that, Fuhr says racist outbursts are largely limited to occasional fans of the game in the United States.

"Growing up in Canada, it's not as big an issue," he said. "It's a smaller piece of society in Canada than it is in the U.S."

Fuhr said he experienced almost no racism on the ice and only one incident off.

"The only issue I ever had was when I was in Buffalo being denied entry into a golf club, but I went and joined another golf club."

"You just don't let it be a part of your life."