Capitals forward Joel Ward called the past few days “a circus” in the aftermath of his game-winning series goal against the Boston Bruins and the ensuing racist tweets directed at him via Twitter.
“There’s been a lot of support from everybody, especially my teammates and the whole organization and even the opposition, the Bruins, and some of their fans,” Ward said. “So it’s been overwhelming, a lot’s been going on. Just trying to embrace it, I guess, as best I can.”
Ward wears No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, the baseball player who integrated the major leagues in 1948 and was an icon of the Civil Rights movement in the United States. He understandably didn’t want to dwell much on the tweets, preferring not to give attention to such stupidity.
“What we get out of it is that we get to move on and keep playing,” Ward said of his goal. “I’m excited to do that, Obviously, [racism is] a battle I think will always be there and it’s just one of those instances that’s just a topic that will always exist.”
Ward said he hadn’t spoken with Wayne Simmonds, a forward with the Philadelphia Flyers who was also subjected to a racist taunt when a banana peel was tossed on the ice as he attempted a shootout during a preseason game in London, Ontario last September. He had spoken with good friend Kevin Weekes, a former NHL goalie and now a CBC analyst. All three men long ago learned to disregard hate-filled speech – even if it isn’t always easy to accept. Ward, though, has an approach that he says works for him.
“For me, it’s pretty simple. I don’t let it bother me at all,” Ward said. “It’s a few people that just made a couple of terrible comments and what can you do? I know what I signed up for. I’m a black guy playing a predominately white sport. It‘s just going to come with the territory. I’d feel naïve or foolish to think that it doesn’t exist.”
Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14