Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz was delayed in addressing the media following a 7-1 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago because he was busy attending to an ugly incident revolving around forward Devante Smith-Pelly.
After fighting Connor Murphy in the third period and taking a seat in the penalty box, Smith-Pelly was met with chants of "basketball, basketball, basketball" from nearby fans, a Capitals spokesman told Isabelle Khurshudyan of The Washington Post.
When Trotz did come out of the locker room, he had a simple message.
"There's absolutely no place in the game of hockey or our country for racism," he said, per Tarik El-Bashir of NBC Sports Washington. "I think it's disgusting. There's no place for it. The athletes in our country don't deserve that. It just shows ignorance."
Off-ice officials confirmed what happened and four fans were ejected. The Blackhawks later released this statement:
Trotz said he was going to discuss the incident with Smith-Pelly in a private setting, while several Capitals teammates had already offered support in the locker room.
February is "Hockey Is For Everyone" month around the NHL, with the aim of providing "a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status."