Sport

Leafs find teachable moment in homophobia accusation

Leafs find teachable moment in homophobia accusation”

That environment came into question during Monday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, where a microphone on the broadcast seemed to pick up a homophobic slur being yelled during game action.

During the end of the second period, while the Leafs were on a power play, camera mics picked up what sounded like "f*cking f*ggot", as Rielly and Tampa Bay's Yanni Gourde skated into Toronto's defensive zone.

No further comment will be made by the National Hockey League until the investigation is complete.

Two hours after the game Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas also issued a statement.

"The issue of homophobia is one the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club strongly condemns and takes very seriously", he said. Dubas said he watched the clip so many times that "you kind of convince yourself you can hear hundreds of different things as you go through it".

A year later, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf was fined $10,000 for using an apparent homophobic slur in a playoff game against the Nashville Predators, a move that was heavily criticized as being too lenient. They wanted to use the controversy to make it clear where the Maple Leafs stand as an organization on homophobia. When he became aware of the controversy after the game, Dubas called Rielly back to the arena to discuss the matter. "All of those interviewed adamantly denied that Rielly uttered a slur and the audio supported their statements", said Colin Campbell, the league's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations in a statement Tuesday.

'We were no good, ' Toronto coach Mike Babcock said after the 6-2 loss. Then-Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw was banned for a playoff game in 2017 and fined $5,000 after using a slur in the penalty box. "I didn't mean it in that manner in any way".

At the time, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said: "It is an unfortunate penalty for the player and for his team, particularly at this time of year, but hopefully it will be an eye-opening response for everyone involved in the league and in our game. And I think it's an opportunity for us as a team to realize that there's really no place for slurs like that in sport and in life". That word did not leave his mouth.



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