NHL forward Wayne Simmonds, who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, got into a tuft on the ice with Sean Avery on Monday night, calling the New York Rangers winger a “f-cking f-ggot."
Avery has been very outspoken regarding his support of marriage equality and joined HRC’s successful New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign earlier this year. After the game Avery told reporters, "To be here now having to answer the questions about what he did is disappointing for me. I'm disappointed for him," Avery said.
Gays and lesbians against Defamation (GLAAD) was the first to make a statement condemning the remarks.
"Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink," said GLAAD acting president Mike Thompson. "The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable."
Despite GLAAD’s statement, the NHL released one of their own yesterday, saying they will not be pursuing this particular incident further.
However, the NHL did reiterate their policies against discrimination.
"It also is important to emphasize that the National Hockey League holds, and will continue to hold, our Players [sic] to higher standards with respect to their conduct both on and off the ice. While we recognize that the emotion involved in certain on-ice confrontations may lead to the use of highly charged and sometimes offensive language and commentary, certain lines cannot be crossed."
Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has also condemned the comments and is now requesting the professional hockey organization conduct a more thorough investigation into the incident.
According to ESPN,
Avery was asked whether he felt these types of slurs should be treated the same as racially-charged language and other offensive on-ice displays, Avery pointed to a similar scenario in the NBA.
"Kobe Bryant got fined ($100,000)," he replied, referring to the highly publicized incident in April in which Bryant was fined for calling a referee the very same derogatory term Simmonds used during the game.
Avery stopped short of saying whether he believed the NHL should take a hard stance on the issue.