The Chicago Blackhawks lost Game 4 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night, so it's understandable that Andrew Shaw would be upset about it. His late penalty put Chicago on a penalty kill and effectively derailed its chances of a comeback. Now the team needs to win three straight games to keep its season alive. That's worth getting mad about.
Shaw's reaction in the penalty box -- which was caught on video by NBC -- on the other hand, is something that both he and the team should be truly embarrassed about.
We've long defended Shaw's various antics on the ice, but this is something entirely different. The use of this kind of homophobic language in a professional setting -- and yes, Shaw is on the job when he's playing in an NHL game, even if it's an unconventional job -- simply cannot be ignored.
During the NBA season, Rajon Rondo was caught using the same homophobic slur during an NBA game toward referee Bill Kennedy, who responded to the incident by revealing that he himself was gay. That situation underscores why it's so important to weed this kind of behavior out of professional sports. Nobody deserves to hear that kind of stuff when they're just trying to do their job, and while I understand the whole "heat of the moment" thing, that should not excuse using hate speech because you're in a bad mood. Rondo was suspended for a game by the league as a result of his actions.
Shaw said after the game that he didn't know what he said, although it seems fairly clear from the video.
Andrew Shaw on if he used homophobic slur after penalty: "I don't know what I said. I wasn't happy with the call." #Blackhawks— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) April 20, 2016
It's also worth noting that the Blackhawks recently partnered with You Can Play, an organization devoted to combating homophobia in the sports world. You Can Play has already tweeted that it's looking into the incident and will be reaching out to the NHL.
We are aware of tonight's incident and will be reaching out to the NHL immediately to assist in an appropriate response.— You Can Play Project (@YouCanPlayTeam) April 20, 2016
If the Hawks want to truly throw their weight behind that cause, they'll need to respond to this situation because it's embarrassing for Shaw, the team and the league in general.
UPDATE: Shaw has been suspended for Game 5 by the NHL. The forward also apologized for the incident Wednesday by releasing a statement and meeting with reporters. "I have no excuses for anything. I'll never use that word again, that's for sure," Shaw said. He also spoke with beat writer Chris Hine, who is openly gay, and made his feelings clear about how much he regretted his actions.
Shaw wanted to talk after his media session & he's sincere in his apology and in saying that's not the kind of guy he is. I appreciated that— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) April 20, 2016
He could've ducked the media and didn't have to talk to me afterward. It took a certain amount of guts to do that.— Chris Hine (@ChristopherHine) April 20, 2016