Ward targeted by racist tweets after OT goal against Bruins Staff with files

4/26/2012 4:34:19 PM

While Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward's series-winning overtime goal on Wednesday had hockey fans celebrating in the U.S. capital, it brought a backlash of racist remarks from a number of Boston Bruins fans on Twitter.

"We a hockey playing n----- ... what kind of s--- is this," a user named @Mahdawg_Jake wrote.

"I can't believe the series winner was scored by a f------ n-----," user @GorgeousGreg10 tweeted.

Ward, a Canadian whose parents emigrated from Barbados, scored to knock out the defending Stanley Cup champions at 2:57 of overtime for a 2-1 Washington win.

Others defended the 32-year-old forward against the attacks. "Please don't think that most Boston fans are like that," tweeted @JordanLerm. "We really aren't. You guys played well and congrats on moving on."

"Wow. I can't believe how freely racist comments toward Joel Ward are circulated in this time and age," user @DianasaurasRex wrote. "So much for societal progress."

Other fans quickly tweeted reminders out that Willie O'Ree, the first black player in the NHL, started his career in Boston.

Sports Business News editor Howard Bloom said the reaction from Bruins fans likely doesn't come as a shock to Ward, one of the few black players in the NHL.

"He understands and he appreciates that he is a minority and he stands as an example to everyone and Joel must and will turn this into him being a champion, him being a leader," Bloom told CTV's Canada AM on Thursday morning.

"It doesn't faze me at all," Ward told USA Today on Thursday. "We won, and we are moving on .... People are going to say what they want to say."

Ward also stated that he's never had any issues with racism while playing in the NHL.

"I'm definitely the one black guy in a room with 20 white guys," Ward said. "There are definitely some cultural differences, such as taste in music, but I've never heard anything derogatory."

The Bruins released a statement on Thursday afternoon denouncing the remarks made on social media.

"The Bruins are very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night," it read. "These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization."

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis took his blog on Thursday to not only offer his support towards Ward, but to express his disgust with the comments.

"Shame on these folks who decided to take to their keyboards and show their ignorance and their racism and hate," Leonsis wrote. "What these people have said and done is unforgivable. I hope they are now publicly identified and pay a huge price for their beliefs. There should be zero tolerance for this kind of hate mongering. Their messages should now stay glued into the algorithms to place a forever warning and a mark upon these people and their actions. They shouldn't be able to escape their keystrokes.

"We will as an organization support Joel Ward. He has been a great teammate and a great citizen. He is now the star of stars in our city for his heroics last night. He is a friend and a fantastic player – who delivered – as advertised for us and our fans in the playoffs."

Files from and The Canadian Press were used for this report.