Hate travels fast in the age of Twitter. No sooner had Joel Ward’s shot found the back of the net late Wednesday than racist rants began spewing on the Internet.
Web sites such as Chirpstory and BlackSportsOnline collected dozens of the vile tweets. Most used the n-word modified by the f-word. A few issued death threats. And some combined both: “That (n-word) deserves to hang.”
“Shocking to see,” Ward told USA TODAY Sports, “but it didn’t ruin my day.”
Ward, who was born in Toronto of parents from Barbados, heard about the tweets while on the Washington Capitals’ flight back from Boston after his Game 7 overtime goal knocked out the defending champion Bruins. Teammate Jeff Halpern showed Ward some of the tweets and apologized that he had to see that.
“Halpern just took offense that people weren’t talking about the goal, (but rather) getting into racist remarks,” Ward said. “I think he was telling me he had my back.”
So did Caps owner Ted Leonis, who attacked the haters on his blog, Ted’s Take: “What these people have said and done is unforgivable. I hope they are now publicly identified and pay a huge price for their beliefs.”
The NHL issued a statement that called the comments “ignorant and unacceptable” and said the people who made them “have no place associating themselves with our game.”
Some self-policing tweeters attacked the racist tweets. By Thursday evening, 31 of the 40 tweets highlighted on Chirpstory.com had been deleted and 17 of those accounts deleted. One tweeted an apology, saying he was 16 and had made a stupid mistake.
“I think it is just kids,” Ward said. “It has no effect on me whatsoever.”
Some of the tweeters indicated they were Bruins fans, though it is hard to know how many are from Boston, a city with a fraught history of racial tension.