Rogue NHL Fan Charged After Hurling Banana at African-Canadian Player
Police in London, Ontario, Canada identified a 26-year old male as the alleged thrower of a banana peel which was thrown on the ice during an exhibition NHL game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings. The man, identified as Christopher Moorhouse of London, apparently threw the banana as a racial slur against African-Canadian player Wayne Simmonds, of the Flyers. Police officials in London held a press conference Wednesday to announce that Moorhouse would be charged with engaging in a prohibited activity under the Tresspass Act. If convicted, Moorhouse could be assessed a $2000 fine.
After numerous tips were uncovered in the case, and with the help of social media, Moorhouse was quickly identified as the alleged thrower. He turned himself into police, and allegedly expressed remorse for the act.
Simmonds, 23, plays right wing for the Philadelphia Flyers. In the exhibition game against the Red Wings, Simmonds began skating toward Red Wings goalie Jordan Pearce in the shootout, when a banana was thrown from the stands. In spite of this distraction, Simmonds went on to score a goal, and the Flyers went on to win the game, 4-3.
The NHL continues to be one of the least racially diverse leagues in sports. Of the approximately 700 players in the league, approximately 48 are non-Caucasian, and of these only 29 are currently of African descent. The NHL has seen its share of racial incidents. In recent memory, former Montreal Canadiens enforcer Georges Laraque (who is of African descent) accused New York Rangers agitator Sean Avery of uttering a racial epithet towards him (Avery denied it). Former NHL goalie Kevin Weekes (now a hockey commentator for CBC Sports) also experienced a similar incident to Wayne Simmonds when a fan tossed a banana at him during a playoff game in 2002.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has denounced the Simmonds incident calling it "an obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual".
Wayne Simmonds image courtesy of underactive