NHL

Andrew Shaw suspended for using gay slur during Blackhawks playoff game

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw has been suspended one game and fined $5,000 for using a gay slur during Game 4 of the Blackhawks' first-round series.

Issues emotional apology acknowledging 'hurtful' word

Chicago forward issues apology. 4:20

Chicago forward Andrew Shaw has been suspended one game for using a gay slur during Game 4 of the Blackhawks' first-round series against the St. Louis Blues.

The National Hockey League also fined him US $5,000 for making an inappropriate gesture toward a referee.

Shaw was sent off for interference with just over two minutes left in the third period, hurting Chicago's chance for a comeback in what would eventually be a 4-3 loss at home. While sitting in the penalty box, Shaw pounded on the glass with his stick and then yelled what looked like a slur toward someone on the ice.

No known audio exists of what he said in the noisy arena, but video of the incident quickly surfaced on social media

Warning: The following video may be offensive.

"I'll never use that word again, that's for sure... That's a hurtful word," an emotional Shaw told reporters at a makeshift news conference at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, from which the Blackhawks were to fly to St. Louis for their next game.

"That's not the type of guy I am," Shaw said. He will be required to undergo sensitivity treatment.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said Shaw's teammates support him.

"We stand behind him and who he is as a person," Toews said.

In a statement released around the same time by the team, Shaw said: "I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box. When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances. I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful and I will learn from my mistake."

The team added: "We are extremely disappointed in Andrew Shaw's actions last night. His comments do not reflect what we stand for as an organization. We are proud to have an inclusive and respectful environment, and to support various initiatives such as the You Can Play Project and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association. We will use this opportunity to further educate our players and organization moving forward, so that we all may learn from it."

NHL spokesman John Dellapina said Wednesday that the league is investigating the incident and would have no comment until the investigation is completed.

The You Can Play Project — a prominent gay rights group affiliated with the NHL which aims to ensure equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation — tweeted after the game that it was aware of the incident and "will be reaching out to the NHL immediately to assist in an appropriate response."

The Blackhawks recently highlighted their partnership with the You Can Play Project, and defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson and goaltender Scott Darling participating in a video supporting the group's mission.

Asked twice after the game about what happened, Shaw said he didn't remember.

"Being like I just said — I'll repeat myself for you — emotions are high," he said. "I don't know what was said. Obviously, I was upset with the call. I wasn't happy with the call."

Shaw scored a goal in the second period and had two assists in Chicago's defeat, which put the defending Stanley Cup champions down three games to one in the best-of-seven opening-round series.

He also made a rude gesture on his way to the penalty box.

Other athletes have used slur

A national television audience heard Kobe Bryant shout the same slur that Shaw used in 2011 at a referee he thought had made a bad call during a basketball game. Chicago Bulls centre Joakim Noah yelled it at a Miami Heat basketball fan who had been getting on him during a game a month later. Both quickly apologized, and the National Basketball Association hit them with large fines: Bryant was fined $100,000 and Noah $50,000.

Sacramento's Rajon Rondo was suspended one game in December for using the slur as he berated official Bill Kennedy, who subsequently came out as gay.

Major League Baseball in 2014 suspended Yunel Escobar, then a shortstop with the Toronto Blue Jays, for stenciling the word, in Spanish, onto his eye black.

Like MLB, The NHL has never had an openly gay player. The founder of You Can Play, Patrick Burke, works in the NHL's player safety office. He has championed the LGBT cause and said earlier this year that he has met gay NHL players through the years.

With files from The Associated Press

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