After PK Subban scored the winning goal in double overtime for the Montreal Canadien's 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins in game one of second round of the NHL Eastern Conference playoffs, he was reportedly pelted with trash by bellicose Bruins fans at the TD Gardens. When asked if he was hit by the debris, Subban said: I don’t know. It doesn’t even matter.”
What was harder to deny were the brigade of bigoted Bruins fans which took to Twitter to share thousand of racist comments to trash the 24 year old defenseman from Toronto whose parents emigrated from the Caribbean to Canada. It got so bad that the Bruins' President Cam Neely issued a statement:
“The racist, classless views expressed by an ignorant group of individuals following Thursday’s game via digital media are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization.”
This torrent of intolerance is not the first time that some Masshole bigots have sullied the sport. When Joel Ward clenched the series for the Washington Capitals over the Boston in 2012, some Bruins fans issued a barrage of racist rants on Twitter. What makes this episode remarkable is that it took place in the turbulent cultural cross currents of the Donald Sterling Clippers controversy in the NBA.
When Subban chose to respond to these racists' rants, his thoughts could not be contained in 140 character limit of Twitter. Subban said:
First things first, the Boston Bruins are an Original Six franchise, they have been around a long time, they are respected. It’s completely unfair for anybody to point the finger at the organization of the fan base. They have passionate fans here, a great fan base and since I’ve been in the league, it’s been awesome.
I’ve come to Boston many times, my family has come here and it’s been great. What people may say on Twitter or social media is not a reflection by any means of the league or the Boston Bruins.
You know what the funny thing is, is that we get stronger as a league. You see how people come together and it’s great. It’s not just about me. The NHL has tons of players from different backgrounds, from different places around the world and that’s what makes this league so special and that’s what makes sports so special, it brings everybody together.
Another great hockey game today. I’m sure everybody enjoyed it and I look forward to the rest of the series and everybody else should, too.
Even when pointedly interviewed on television about the incident, Subban refused to climb onto the racial victims bandwagon.
Subban brushed off the brusque bigotry, he spoke highly of the passion of his arch-rival Bruins fans, while touting the virtues of hockey. When pressed he called out the stupidity of the minority of insult hurlers.
Even diehard Bruin fans are impressed by Subban's class. Someone reacting to the Boston Herald's coverage of the incident wrote:
I hate the Habs, but in regards to P.K. Subban praise is due. P.K. is a class person and a helluva hockey player, man can he skate — beautiful to watch. Fortunately, I believe we will be loving to hate P.K. (the player) for years to come. Oh, and those walking pieces of human debris who sent those tweets etc. ... can now crawl back into their rats nests while the rest of us enjoy a great playoff series.
Even some Massachusetts politicos have gone out on a limb to praise Subban's poise. Charlie Baker, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, posted on Twitter
Passions can run high among hockey fans, especially a playoff series between members of the NHL's original six. But P.K. Subban demonstrated remarkable virtue should be admired across the board as one classy Canadien. Subban's example is a better example of what sports can do.