Right now, the world is at place in which no one could have ever imagined. ‘Self-isolation’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘personal quarantine’ are phrases heard every day. Workplaces have closed their doors, while the entire sporting world has put its collective campaign on hold.
While away from one another, this period of down time has allowed many to enjoy experiences that they wouldn’t regularly get. Parties with friends become online Zoom conferences, while one on one hangouts become FaceTime calls. The NHL continues to air NHL Rewind ‘classic’ hockey games nightly on its major broadcasters.
Although missing the aspect of social interaction, sports fans worldwide are left thinking what could have been, with thoughts of despair, loneliness, disappointment and racism.
On Friday, much like most of the 31 NHL cubs have done, the New York Rangers hosted a live online Zoom conference with draft pick K’Andre Miller. As the 2018 first round selection responded to a variety of questions online, the video chat was compromised and a continual onslaught of derogatory racial slurs were repeated towards Miller in the textual ‘Chat’ portion of the conversation.
Despite seeing the perpetrator’s words, Miller (a 20-year-old of African-American descent) carried on with the conversation, visibly shaken. The online hockey community was quick to jump on the egregious deed, calling out the ‘hacker’ who had called out Miller.
First on the scene professionally, was current Rangers defenceman, and former Winnipeg Jet Jacob Trouba. The seven-year NHL pro – who in the near future is expected to suit up on defence alongside Miller – immediately Tweeted out a message of support to Miller, very shortly after the news of the derogatory racial responses became public.
“What happened today was inexcusable and cowardly,” Trouba Tweeted. “Racism has no place in the hockey community or the world. K’Andre we are excited to have you as a part of the New York Rangers and I look forward to having you as a teammate.”
A variety of Trouba’s Rangers teammates and league opponents either liked or retweeted his message.
Shortly after Trouba’s message was released, the Rangers released a public statement, condemning the attacker for his actions:
“We held an online video chat with fans and New York Rangers prospect K’Andre Miller, during which a vile individual hijacked the chat to post racial slurs, which we disabled as soon as possible. We were incredibly appalled by this behaviour, which has no place online, on the ice, or anywhere, and we are investigating the matter.”
Shortly thereafter the NHL also responded to the degrading act of racism:
“The National Hockey League is appalled that a video call arranged today by the New York Rangers to introduce their fans to one of the league’s incoming stars, K’Andre Miller, was hacked with racist, cowardly taunts. The person who committed this despicable act is in no way an NHL fan and is not welcome in the hockey community. No one deserves to be subjected to such ugly treatment and it will not be tolerated in our league. We join with the Rangers in condemning this disgusting behaviour.”
Miller, who signed his three-year, entry-level contract with the Rangers back in March, has not yet made a public statement, or responded to a request for comment.