HRC Blog

HRC to NHL: Take Another Look at Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds’ Anti-Gay Slur

HRC is calling on the NHL to immediately conduct a more thorough investigation and take appropriate action following claims that Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called New York Rangers winger and equality supporter Sean Avery a “f-cking f-ggot” during a preseason game Monday night. The exchange was caught on video. Simmonds originally did not deny hurling the slur at Avery, but later changed his tune when the NHL began looking into the incident. Sean Avery is a staunch supporter of LGBT equality and recently participated in HRC’s successful New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign.

Yesterday, the NHL released a statement in which they announced they would not be pursuing additional action against Simmonds at this time: “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.”

The New York Post’s Larry Brooks said by not acting, the league “avoided its moral and civic responsibility.” Read Brooks’ full piece.

The NHL has a responsibility to follow the example set by the National Basketball Association following similar incidents of homophobia on the court. The NHL’s statement explicitly speaks to holding hockey players to a higher standard of conduct. The NHL should take appropriate action to match their rhetoric and hold Wayne Simmonds accountable for his conduct – which he himself did not immediately deny. Additionally, the NHL and the Philadelphia Flyers should take steps to educate both their players and fans about the dangers of homophobia and the very real dangers associated with these types of slurs.

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