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AHL coach Bob Nardella, suspended 10 games, denies using anti-gay slur at officials

Bob Nardella is in his first season coaching the Chicago Wolves.

Chicago Wolves coach Bob Nardella now claims he never used the homophobic language that the AHL claims led to his 10-gay suspension.
Chicago Wolves

Update: Coach Bob Nardella is refuting the AHL’s assertion that he directed homophobic language at an official during a recent game. Nardella said he lost his “temper” with the officials, but he didn’t hurl a gay slur.

“I firmly deny that I made a homophobic remark during the game last Saturday, December 9. I want to state clearly that I condemn any form of homophobic language or conduct. ... The accusations made against me are incredibly upsetting because that is not the type of person I am.”

We’ll have to now wait for a rebuttal from the AHL. They will need to clarify what happened.

Previous story: Bob Nardella, the head coach of the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, has been suspended by the league 10 games for allegedly hurling an anti-gay slur at officials.

“Nardella was assessed a game misconduct for abuse of officials at 8:48 of the third period after using homophobic language,” the AHL said in a statement. “The American Hockey League is committed to building a culture that is safe, inclusive and free from abuse, harassment and all forms of unethical behavior or misconduct.”

As first reported by ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski, Nardella will still have some interaction with the team, but he won’t be coaching any games until early January.

For their part, the Wolves said they “do not tolerate derogatory language”:

As a player, Nardella played across pro hockey leagues for about 15 years, including much of those seasons with the Wolves. He competed in the Olympics for Italy.

He is, having started play in the 1980s, from an older time in the hockey world, when language like this went unchecked. His use of it with an official certainly raises the question as to when else he’s using it.

The Wolves play in the same AHL Central Division as the Milwaukee Admirals, where Luke Prokop played nine games this season before being re-assigned to the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL. The Wolves are currently dead last in the division, and it’s not even close.

The AHL is the second-highest league in American professional hockey.

The Wolves held their first Pride Night in 2019, when out gay Wolves executive Nick Cottrell helped organize the event.

It’s another bad look in a rough year for hockey, as many in the sport try to get hold of the homophobic language and behavior that is reportedly so rampant in the sport. Former pro hockey player Brock McGillis is currently on a tour to talk with young hockey players about this behavior. Anecdotally, McGillis has told Outsports that he is finding positive reception from many of the young players, as he shares his story with them.

Still, hockey’s gay problem persists.