Simmonds ready to move on from ugly incident in London Staff

9/23/2011 6:19:40 PM

Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds is ready to move on from the ugly incident that occurred Thursday night during a contest in London, Ontario against the Detroit Red Wings.

While Simmonds was making a shootout attempt on Red Wings goaltender Jordan Pearce, a spectator threw a banana on the ice - an action that the Flyers forward would like to put in the past.

"It was unfortunate that this incident happened but I am above this sort of stuff," said Simmonds on Friday in a statement. "This is something that is out of my control. Moving forward, this incident is something I will no longer comment on so I can just focus on playing hockey for the Philadelphia Flyers."

Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock was appalled by the act but impressed with the composure and class Simmonds showed on the ice.

"It's absolutely disgraceful but what I liked is that the kid buried it, never missed a beat, never responded," said Babcock on Friday, "We're way past that, way past that."

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri, who spent two seasons as a member of the London Knights, was shocked this happened where he used to play.

"I felt like the fans in London were pretty respectful to not only their players but to the visiting players that came in as well," said Kadri.  "I think that's so disrespectful and I'm shocked."

Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane spoke out against the incident after practice as well.

"I think it's just a classless act by that fan and it shouldn't happen, but things like that still happen in this world. It's just unfortunate."

Philadelphia Flyers forward James Van Riemsdyk says his teammate is dealing well with the difficult situation.

"He's handled it very well so far he's taking it in stride, obviously he's disappointed that happened but he's handled it well."

Speaking after practice on Friday, Montreal Canadiens defenceman P.K. Subban did not want to dwell on the situation or give anymore attention to the perpetrator.

 "It's an unfortunate incident but it shouldn't be a story, it's not a reflection on hockey or on the people in hockey," Subban told the assembled media.  "It's just an ignorant person that got into the building.  This is the start of the season and we have a lot better things to talk about than some ignorant fan.  I think by us even talking about it we're giving him what he wants, our focus should be on hockey."

Kevin Weekes, a former NHL goaltender and current CBC commentator, expressed his disgust over the incident on his Twitter account.

"For those that asked: I'm extremely disappointed with what happened to Wayne Simmonds tonight in London Ont," he posted. "We've taken HUGE steps to grow the game of hockey, as I speak Willie O'Ree and I are in D.C attending the Black Congressional Caucus on behalf of the NHL & ironically this takes place."

Weekes is also unfortunately speaking from experience as he was targeted by the same type of behaviour during a playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens while playing for the Carolina Hurricanes.

He was not the only member of the NHL community to take to his Twitter account to condemn the actions that took place in the stands of the John Labatt Centre in London.

St. Louis Blues forward Chris Stewart also expressed his outrage and showed support for Simmonds.

"The incident that happened in london tonight involving my best friend wayne simmonds was simply disgusting, its 2011 ppl need to grow up."

San Jose Sharks forward and London native Logan Couture also spoke out against the incident.

"Wayne Simmonds is a good friend of mine. To hear what happened to him in my hometown is awful. No need for this in sports or life."

Former Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque suggested a solution.

"What do you think of the fan that threw a banana on the ice to mock Philadelphia Flyers player W. Simmonds? He should be ban from rinks!"

Teammate Ian Laperriere was shocked to see this type of actions taking place in today's game.

"I can't believe what happen last night during the shoot-out ... I know racism is out there but to see that at a hockey game I'm shock"

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement regarding the matter on Friday.

"We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our players and for the game," said Bettman in the statement. "The obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario."