12 years into a successful NHL career, Wayne Simmonds is a Scarborough native living out his childhood dream of playing professional hockey for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Straight out of the Canadian dream storybook, right? Well, here Simmonds was today, speaking publicly about a sickening racist incident that occurred in a hockey league over 7,000 kilometers away, expressing serious doubts as to whether he would want his kids to follow in his footsteps or even participate in the sport of hockey at all:
It is disgusting. Quite frankly, I am getting sick of talking about stuff like this. It continues to happen. I haven’t made a comment. I have just been kind of watching behind the scenes to see what is happening.
They gave the guy three games, plus he can buy back 10, or something like that. That is, quite frankly, embarrassing. The IIHF, the UHL — whoever is the governing body there has to do something about that. That kid needs to be banned.
That is the problem. Things like this are happening. It is not just that it just happens. We have seen it a million times already. The punishments definitely don’t match the crime.
… If I had it up to me, you have two choices. You are either going to face off against us and we are going to kick the crap out of you, or you are banned for life. It has come to a point where it is sickening, disgusting. The way that guy did what he did without any hesitancy makes me sick to my stomach.
To know that I have to play hockey and potentially have my children play hockey and face these types of incidents… I can see why people of colour don’t want to play hockey. I can see why parents are completely afraid to put their kids into this sport. I am the same way as well.
Obviously, I have faced a lot of these things myself. I don’t even know if I’d want my kids playing hockey, to be quite honest.
Simmonds’ words should stop anybody who is a fan or participant in the game of hockey in their tracks.
It is not a new perspective shaped by the embarrassingly weak punishment levied against Andrei Deniskin by some far-away league maligned by backward attitudes. Simmonds’ words are rooted in the disturbing reality that the latest incident wasn’t unfamiliar or surprising to him in the slightest. It isn’t far detached from his own experiences growing up in the game as a Canadian born and raised in the GTA.
This is a heavy, damning statement, one all of us should stop and listen to in full:
Wayne Simmonds speaks candidly on the racist incident in the Ukrainian league: "I can see why people of colour don't want to play hockey… I have faced a lot of these things myself. I don't know if I would want my kids to be playing hockey, to be quite honest." pic.twitter.com/Tirnf0UHHU
— Maple Leafs Hotstove (@LeafsNews) September 30, 2021