WASHINGTON (AP) — Devante Smith-Pelly got up from his seat.The Washington Capitals forward had heard the unmistakably racist taunts from fans from inside the penalty box. As a black hockey player [url=http://www.officialredwings.com/authentic-adidas-jimmy-howard-jersey]Jimmy Howard Jersey[/url] , he knew exactly what they meant by yelling, “Basketball, basketball, basketball!”“It’s just ignorant people being ignorant,” Smith-Pelly said.That scene unfolded in Chicago in February, 60 years after Willie O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier and paved the way for more minorities to play the sport and reach its highest level. O’Ree is being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday for his pioneering career, and yet incidents like the one Smith-Pelly went through show how much more progress needs to be made, in a league that’s 97 percent white and beyond.“It’s come a long way, but there’s still a lot of things that still need to change,” Edmonton defenseman Darnell Nurse said. “That just comes through minorities as a group working together to try to eliminate those things from this game.”Those things just keep happening.In 2011, Philadelphia forward Wayne Simmonds had a banana thrown at him during a preseason game in London, Ontario.In 2012, then-Washington forward Joel Ward was the subject of racist social media posts after he scored a game-winning playoff goal.In 2014, then-Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban was the subject of racist social media posts after he scored a game-winning playoff goal.In April, Detroit prospect Givani Smith was subjected to threats and racial taunts and messages after a junior game in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. His team had a police escort the next time they went to the rink.“(O’Ree) had to go through a lot, and the same thing has been happening now [url=http://www.officialredwings.com/authentic-adidas-jonathan-ericsson-jersey]Jonathan Ericsson Jersey[/url] , which obviously means there’s still a long way to go,” Smith-Pelly said. “If you had pulled a quote from him back then and us now, they’re saying the same thing, so obviously there’s still a long way to go in hockey and in the world if we’re being serious.”Through his work as an NHL diversity ambassador over the past 20 years, O’Ree has tried to work toward more inclusion and better minority representation. He is eager to tell kids at YMCAs, Boys & Girls Clubs and schools that hockey is another sport they can play.USA Hockey and Hockey Canada don’t keep participation statistics by race, though there are fewer than two dozen black players currently on NHL rosters. The NHL celebrates “Hockey is for Everyone” month each season and quickly condemns racist behavior.“A lot of it’s basically on your parents and how people raise their kids,” said San Jose forward Evander Kane, who acknowledged being the subject of racist taunting as the only black player on his minor league teams in Vancouver. “You can have all the awareness that you want, but at the end of the day, it’s really up to the individual and how they act and how they want to treat other people.”O’Ree, 83, still remembers how he was treated in the ’50s as hockey’s Jackie Robinson. He did his best to drown out the noise by listening to his brother Richard.“I heard the jeers and some of the racial remarks, but it kind of went in one ear and out the other,” O’Ree said. “He told me, ‘Willie, names will never hurt you unless you let them.’ He said [url=http://www.officialredwings.com/authentic-adidas-justin-abdelkader-jersey]Womens Justin Abdelkader Jersey[/url] , ‘If they can’t accept you for the individual that you are, just forget about it and just go out and do what you do best and don’t worry about anything else.'”Nurse said black players still have to worry about racist jeers and remarks.“I had a lot growing up and my brother had the big one too last year,” said Dallas forward Gemel Smith, Givani’s brother. “How we were raised, nothing really bothers me. That stuff doesn’t really get to me and things like that. My dad always taught us just to try to close it out, block it out.”Like Smith-Pelly, Simmonds is quick to say racism isn’t an issue unique to hockey or sports in general. His solution is a zero tolerance policy, which is what happened to the four fans in Chicago who were thrown out and banned from all home games by the Blackhawks.“I think what could be done to keep these types of incidents from happening would probably be to ban those people who are doing those lewd acts,” Simmonds said. “I think if you set a strong example right from the start, you won’t have too many people acting like clowns.”Commissioner Gary Bettman, who is going into the Hall of Fame with O’Ree as part of the class of 2018, considers it important to make clear to fans and players what’s expected and what’s not tolerated and said: “Even if it’s only one incident, it’s one too many.” Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said creating and cultivating an inclusive environment and building diversity are significant league priorities.There has been incremental progress. In the aftermath of Smith-Pelly’s incident, fans in Chicago raised $23,000 to donate to the Fort Dupont Ice Rink in Washington, helping hundreds of children.“When you see the reaction and the way that people rally around moments like that and try to make a positive out of it, I think that’s definitely a step in the right direction [url=http://www.officialredwings.com/authentic-adidas-luke-glendening-jersey]Luke Glendening Jersey[/url] ,” Nurse said.For some players like Seth Jones, the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, hockey has been a safe place. The Blue Jackets defenseman said he has so far never been on the receiving end of race-based taunts or messages and said, “I was just like everybody else playing hockey, which is what everyone wants.”Most black players haven’t been that fortunate. And while Jones is optimistic that people can change, Smith-Pelly wasn’t sure exactly how that will happen.“It’s tough,” he said. “I don’t really know a plan to stop it. That’s how people are.” The Ottawa Senators traded winger Mike Hoffman on Tuesday, hoping to solve an ugly off-ice issue involving star defenseman Erik Karlsson and his wife.The Senators sent Hoffman to the San Jose Sharks, who then dealt him to the Florida Panthers. All told, the two transactions involved four players and six draft picks.The Sharks sent forward Mikkel Boedker, defensive prospect Julius Bergman and a 2020 sixth-round pick to the Senators for Hoffman, defensive prospect Cody Donaghey and a 2020 fifth-round pick. They then dealt Hoffman and a 2018 seventh-round pick to the Panthers for 2018 fourth- and fifth-round picks and a 2019 second-round pick in a move that clears significant cap space for San Jose to use in an offseason that includes potential free agent forwards John Tavares and Ilya Kovalchuk.The Senators were eager to deal Hoffman amid a dispute with team captain Karlsson and his wife. Melinda Karlsson recently filed an order of protection against Hoffman’s fiancee alleging harassment and cyberbullying in the form of hundreds of derogatory online messages aimed at her and her husband, whose first child, a boy, was stillborn in March.Ottawa general manager Pierre Dorion didn’t hide his reasoning for trading Hoffman.”Today’s trade showcases our determination to strengthen the future of the team by improving chemistry, leadership and character in the locker room and on the ice,” Dorion said. ”We are confident it is a step in the right direction for the long-term success of this organization.”The Senators may still trade Karlsson [url=http://www.officialredwings.com/authentic-adidas-martin-frk-jersey]Martin Frk Jersey[/url] , who can be a free agent at the end of next season, but shipping Hoffman addressed an immediate problem. Dorion contacted the Panthers about Hoffman last week, but Panthers GM Dale Tallon said the players Ottawa was looking for didn’t make it a match.The Panthers were still interested in Hoffman and made a deal with the Sharks for the speedy winger who can score at a reasonable price without having to trade from their NHL roster. Hoffman has surpassed 20 goals in each of the past four seasons since becoming a full-time NHL player.”We felt that this would be a perfect fit for our team,” Tallon said. ”He’s 28, he can score, he can skate, he’s got a cannon for a shot. He’ll be a good fit for our team moving forward. We missed the playoffs by a point. I thought that we needed to add some offense and some speed and skill to our lineup, and this turns out to be the fit for us.”Tallon said he was confident Florida’s locker room would accept Hoffman and wasn’t worried about the situation in Ottawa being a problem.”We did our homework and we discussed it with a lot of different people,” Tallon said. ”We feel that that’s in the past and the distractions. We’re very confident that he’ll be embraced by our team and by their wives and girlfriends. We have a strong culture down there now and I think talking with Mike and all the parties that it will work out to our benefit.”The Sharks, who paid a bargain-basement price to acquire scoring winger Evander Kane at the trade deadline when Buffalo was eager to deal him, shed Boedker’s $4 million salary-cap hit over the next two seasons and cleared room to make some splashes this summer.”We have witnessed some tremendous growth in our younger forwards over the past season and we feel that we have another group of players that are ready to challenge for additional ice time,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. ”These transactions have also allowed us to add to our pool of draft selections, as well as free up a substantial amount of cap space for internal and external player options in the coming months.”—

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