In the wake of Wednesday night's victory for the Washington Capitals to send them to Round Two of the NHL Playoffs, thousands of fans took to Twitter to express their happiness and grief over the result.
After the Capitals beat the Bruins 2-1 in overtime, several Bruins fans took the loss too far. Joel Ward, who scored the winning goal, ended up being the target of numerous racist tweets.
Ward, a Canadian citizen by way of Barbados, is black. He's in his first season in Washington and his goal eliminated the Bruins, the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Capitals forward told USA Today that he was shocked to see the comments, but said that they didn't ruin his day.
"It doesn't faze me at all," Ward told USA Today. "People are going to say what they want to say."
One Twitter user, @tomtroy12, tweeted "The fact that a n***** scored the winner goal makes this loss hurt a lot more." That tweet has since been deleted.
He was far from the only one making comments like that. Many sites have archived a long string of similar comments. (Warning: The previous link contains offensive, inappropriate language.)
On Thursday morning, though, the user apologized for his racist tweet.
To anyone I offended with my tweets last night, I apologize for my stupidity. Im not a racist, it was a joke that got out of hand.— tom troy (@tomtroy12) April 26, 2012
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, the Bruins organization said:
"The Bruins are very disappointed by the racist comments that were made following the game last night. These classless, ignorant views are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization."
Ward is one of more than two dozen black players currently playing in the National Hockey League. He signed a 4-year contract with the Capitals this past offseason.
“Where we are in North America now, it’s hard to believe we still have that prejudice," Ward's agent, Peter Cooney, told the Toronto Globe & Mail, adding that Ward had put the situation "in his back pocket."
CTV says it wasn't the only one, and points out a line of racist tweets sent by Boston fans after the game. In response to the tweets, Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said on his blog that these kinds of words are "unforgivable."
"Their messages should now stay glued into the algorithms to place a forever warning and a mark upon these people and their actions," Leonsis said. "They shouldn’t be able to escape their keystrokes."
The irony of the situation is that the Bruins franchise boasted the first black player in National Hockey League history. Willie O'Ree debuted in 1957 and played in 45 games across two seasons in Boston.
It's not the first case of racism in the NHL this season. In September of last year, during a preseason game in Ontario, a fan threw a banana at Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds, who is also black. About a week after the game, a man was arrested and charged in connection with the incident.
In another incident this past January, several San Francisco 49ers fans tweeted death threats toward a player after they lost the NFC Championship Game to the New York Giants. Kyle Williams was the target of those comments after he dropped a punt that could have led to a San Francisco victory.