After finding himself on the receiving end of a slew of racist tweets last week, Montreal Canadiens star P.K. Subban has publicly addressed the outcry and made it clear: He feels comfortable and at-home in the National Hockey League, and doesn't believe the incident should tarnish his opponents' reputation.
Subban became the target of racially charged and hateful backlash on Twitter after he scored the winning goal in double overtime of the Canadiens' first playoff match-up against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
"It’s completely unfair for anybody to point the finger at the organization or the fan base" - P.K. Subban"'
The tweets, documented by many local outlets, were vile enough that enough that the n-word was briefly trending on Twitter locally according to CBC. One tweet even said, "That stupid n***** doesn’t belong in hockey #whitesonly" according to CBS local station WBZ.
Subban addressed the tweets Saturday, insisting the Bruins fans shouldn't be blamed for the reaction.
"It’s completely unfair for anybody to point the finger at the organization or the fan base," he said Saturday. "They've got passionate fans here, great fanbase."
"Since I’ve been in the league, it’s been awesome. I’ve come to Boston many times, and my family has come here, it’s been great," he continued. "What people may say on Twitter and social media is not a reflection by any means of the league or the Boston Bruins."
"So, whoever that is, they’ll get dealt with, but it’s completely separate from this league or the Boston Bruins organization," he added.
As a top player in a professional sport with far less racial diversity than the NBA or the NFL, Subban might be expected to be accustomed to this kind of bigotry, but he insisted his experience so far has been anything but that.
"You know what the funny thing is, is that we get stronger as a league, when you see how people come together, and it’s great," he said, according to WBZ. "And it’s not just about me. The NHL has got tons of players from different backgrounds from different places around the world. That’s what makes this league so special and that’s what makes sports so special. It brings everybody together."
The comments were also denounced by team president Cam Neely and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "We are about diversity and inclusiveness. We condemn bias and hatred. It has no place in our game and it's not acceptable," Bettman said Saturday.