NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell released a statement Tuesday evening saying that yes, the league has a policy that forbids players calling each other a "fucking faggot," but no, the NHL will not punish Philadelphia Flyer Wayne Simmonds for doing just that. Their reasoning? They can't figure out what Simmonds is saying in the video. Huh?
If Simmonds wasn't calling Sean Avery a "fucking faggot," I can't figure out for the life of me what he did say in the video recording of his tirade. One blogger guessed he was calling Avery "Frodo Baggins." The only thing I can see that isn't a gay slur is "Folly Flathead," which doesn't quite fit the picture. What's your best guess?
The NHL's full release:
Colin Campbell, National Hockey League Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, today released the following statement regarding an altercation during Monday night’s pre-season game between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers:
“All Players, Coaches and Officials in the National Hockey League deserve the respect of their peers, and have the absolute right to function in a work environment that is free from racially or sexually-based innuendo or derision. This is the National Hockey League’s policy and it will remain so going forward.
“It also is important to emphasize that the National Hockey League holds, and will continue to hold, our Players 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. Specifically, we have for many years emphasized to our Clubs and Players that commentary directed at the race or ethnicity of other participants in the game (or even non-participants), or that is otherwise socially or morally inappropriate or potentially hurtful -- including as it may relate to sexual orientation -- is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“With that as background, we have looked into the allegations relating to the possible use of a homophobic slur by a Flyers player in the Rangers/Flyers preseason game last night in Philadelphia. Since there are conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice, we have been unable to substantiate with the necessary degree of certainty what was said and by whom. Specifically, Flyers Player Wayne Simmonds has expressly denied using the homophobic slur he is alleged to have said. Additionally, none of the on-ice officials close to the altercation in question heard any inappropriate slurs uttered by either of the primary antagonists. In light of this, we are unable at this time to take any disciplinary action with respect to last night’s events. To the extent we become aware of additional information conclusively establishing that an inappropriate slur was invoked, we are reserving the option to revisit the matter.”
My guess is that because the NHL did not have an express policy against homophobic slurs (they way they protected against racial slurs) that they are finding a way to pass the buck on this one. Joe In Philly says there is an audio version that clearly has Simmonds saying "fucking faggot." If that goes public, the NHL will have some 'splanin' to do. Until then, my guess is that most people will buy their reasoning.