Last night, the Leafs lost a hockey game to the best NHL team we’ve seen in generations. But the discourse online very quickly turned into something else: what maybe sounded like a very hateful and homophobic word being directed towards the referee while looking for a penalty call late in the second period.
Morgan Rielly became public suspect #1, because he was the one turning his head towards the referee. It could’ve been Yanni Gourde, a player between the benches, or even a fan, but it definitely could’ve been Rielly.
There was definitely something picked up by the microphones, and a pretty clear “fuck”. The next word? Not so clear, but well, it sounded like it could’ve been something pretty awful.
Today, the NHL released this statement.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 12, 2019
We’re not going to link the video, because even though you personally might not be hurt or offended by what it sounded like, and even though the official league ruling has come out that Rielly wasn’t yelling that word at the ref, homophobia in sports is still a major issue. We’d like to think every Leaf (and every player in the NHL) is better than that, but even if this specific instance wasn’t the worst-case scenario, it doesn’t mean it’s not happening at all.
A quick Google or Twitter search should pull the video up. Twitter user @TheFlintor has a good breakdown of the whole situation on his timeline, with a fairly plausible alternative explanation.
If you’re able to, here’s a cause we’re pushing some info towards.
Rielly is rightfully exonerated, but homophobia is clearly still a pressing issue within sports. the conversation shouldn’t end here. @adam_laskaris had the amazing idea last night to donate $44.44 to LGBTQI charity, @RainbowRailroad.
— Mike Stephens (@mikeystephens81) March 12, 2019
If you’re looking for a way to show support while playing hockey yourself, Pride Tape can be purchased here.