Jonathan Bernier mistakenly praises Mandela's hockey skills
Thought Raptors tribute was for 'known athlete'
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier created quite a stir when he mistakenly praised Nelson Mandela's accomplishments "on and off the ice" at Friday's Raptors event.
The Toronto Raptors paid tribute to Mandela on the anniversary of his death. Unfortunately, Bernier wasn't aware of the honouree's significance beyond his apparent ice hockey career prior to attending the event. The Toronto Star reported that the 26-year-old Laval native apologized for his mistake.
“I’m embarrassed,” said Bernier. “I didn’t mean to offend him, his legacy. I got flustered with the red carpet and I was nervous. I think everyone makes mistakes and that was me that night.”
A video of his answer has resurfaced after being removed by the Raptors on Friday due to criticism from fans.
Bernier deserves some credit for apologizing for his gaffe. But it was too late for some people on social media.
I refuse to watch that interview with Jonathan Bernier trying to talk about Nelson Mandela because it's just going to upset me...—@RSandersonWHTK
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." - Nelson Mandela, according to Jonathan Bernier.—@MLHS_Mike
A few people made the seemingly fair assumption that he must have been referring to Mandela's interest in boxing.
Maybe this is what Jonathan Bernier was referring to. RT: "<a href="https://twitter.com/oldpicsarchive">@oldpicsarchive</a>: Nelson Mandela boxing. 1953. <a href="http://t.co/QwzWmB1oHx">pic.twitter.com/QwzWmB1oHx</a>"—@JimCramptonWPG
Some people are giving the Leafs' goalie a pass for not knowing about Mandela's legacy, while others are criticizing the Raptors organization for posting the video given his error. The take away from this snafu could simply be that when in doubt sometimes it's better to just say nothing at all.