The NHL has suspended Andrew Shaw for Game 5 of the first-round series between the Blackhawks and Blues for using a homophobic slur in the penalty box during the previous game, the league announced Wednesday. Shaw was also fined $5,000 for making an obscene gesture to an official and will undergo sensitivity training.
Shaw apologized Wednesday after being caught by television cameras during Game 4 using a homophobic slur while in the penalty box. The 24-year-old forward released a statement and met in-person with reporters to express remorse. "I have no excuses for anything. I'll never use that word again, that's for sure," Shaw said.
Now Shaw will miss a crucial Game 5 for the Blackhawks as they look to fight for their playoff lives against the Blues in their first-round series. Chicago trails, 3-1, after dropping back-to-back games at home and needs to start its comeback without one of its key secondary forwards.
It's the right response from the NHL. The Blackhawks recently partnered up with You Can Play, an organization devoted to battling homophobia in sports, and while the apologies were a very good start, the league needed to show that there's some real teeth behind its support of that cause.
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
It's good to see here that the appropriate response wasn't "nothing" given the need to take issues like this seriously. You Can Play has also released a statement supporting the league's decision to suspend Shaw.
Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune wrote a fantastic article underscoring the problems with homophobia in sports that's well worth your time. Now maybe other players will begin to see the issues with using that kind of language on the ice after this whole situation.