Chicago Blackhawks fans helped raise nearly $20,000 for charity as a show of good faith, in response to four fans being ejected from United Center for shouting racially-charged remarks at Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
The incident occurred in the third period of last Saturday’s 7-1 Capitals loss in Chicago. After hearing the taunts — the fans were shouting “Basketball! Basketball! Basketball!” at the winger — Smith-Pelly confronted the fans from behind the glass of the penalty box.
Those four fans were promptly ejected and, two days later, the Blackhawks announced a lifetime ban for them from United Center.
“Obviously it’s embarrassing,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, during his weekly 106.7 The Fan appearance — ‘The Morning Skate with Jay Beagle,’ sponsored by Sport Automotive — with The Sports Junkies. “It’s terrible that that still happens.”
“They got kicked out of the game, which is really good,” Beagle said. “Unfortunately, it still does happen. People are insane. There’s got to be consequences for your actions, and getting kicked out of the game and banned for life from being able to go back is a start, but it’s obviously too bad when something like that happens. It’s just not right and it’s embarrassing when it happens. It’s unfortunate.”
From bad, came good. After the incident, Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Rosenbloom offered a suggestion, that fans make a donation to the charity of Smith-Pelly’s choosing, the Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Southeast.
In the days since, Blackhawks fans have responded, raising nearly $20,000 for Fort Dupont Ice Arena. Rosenbloom was effusive in his follow-up:
Thank you, Blackhawks fans. Thank you, Tribune readers. Thank you all. You rallied and scored big — nearly $20,000 in donations at last count to the charity designated by Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
I’m grateful to all of you who participated. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a piece that elated me like that. It’s wonderful to turn something ugly into something beautiful. I get the feeling that all of you share that belief. I know that the Fort Dupont Ice Arena does.
Saturday night, at Capital One Arena, Fort Dupont coaches — John Connor, Ralph Featherstone, Neal Henderson, Hank Lee and Robert Primus — will participate in a ceremonial puck drop prior to Washington’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. This is in conjunction with the Caps’ Hockey is For Everyone Month, Black History in Hockey theme night.
The Fort Dupont Cannons are the oldest minority youth hockey program in North America, and the oldest ice hockey program that is a member of the NHL’s HOckey is for Everyone initiative. The program’s goal is to teach young people discipline, self-esteem and a sense of purpose, as well as an incentive to excel academically.