With approximately 30 Black people among the nearly 700 hockey players, no one should be an ounce surprised that Smith has been dealing with racial taunts from the beginning of this season, the Waterloo Region Record reported last week.
“It’s heartbreaking to be honest. He shouldn’t have to endure it,” Red Wings general manager Mike McKenzie told the Waterloo Region Record.
“[Smith] did a good job of turning the other way. I think the unfortunate part — and it pains me to say this — is that he’s probably used to it by now. He’s probably heard things before, which is brutal.”
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The 20-year-old was suspended from an Ontario Hockey League playoff game last week “for giving the middle finger to the opposing bench, but before and after that incident he was subjected to racial slurs and threats, according to his team,” ESPN reported.
Giving the middle finger “sparked a series of racially charged comments on social media,” the Waterloo Region Record wrote.
“One troglodyte reportedly sent a photo to Smith’s personal Facebook account with the caption reading ‘Hockey N***er and another sent a death threat.”
As a result, Smith required a police escort from the airport.
He watched Monday’s Game 7 from the press box with a security guard outside of his door, all because of racist hockey fans.
We’re doubtful the NHL and the Ontario Hockey League will ever find better ways to handle racism — instead, we expect them to continue to suspend any Black player who has a natural human reaction to being called the N-word while on the ice.