Hockey commentator fired over comments about referee's Indigenous status
A Nova Scotia Jr. B team says a commentator has been fired after a discriminatory remark suggesting referee bias toward First Nation players.
A junior hockey commentator has been relieved of his duties following an abhorrent on-air comment he made last Sunday.
The announcer, whose name has not been revealed, had been commentating a game at the Junior B level in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League between the Eskasoni Junior Eagles — a team owned and operated by First Nation Chief Leroy Denny — and the Pictou County Scotians.
Down 2-0 in the third, the Junior Eagles came screaming back to tie the game, thanks in part to the Scotians taking seven penalties to Eskasoni's one. That parade to the penalty box, self-inflicted as it may have been, prompted the unnamed broadcaster to say "I wonder if [the referee] has a band card."
The xenophobic comment, which questioned if the official was Indigenous and unfairly helping the Eskasoni team, earned swift and vocal criticism, prompting an internal investigation and the announcer's eventual dismissal by the Scotians.
Notably, while the Eskasoni Junior Eagles are owned by the aforementioned Leroy Denny, the team is composed of a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous players and coaches, according to a report from the CBC.
Denny also spoke at further length regarding the incident, calling the comments shocking.
"(I'm) discouraged and saddened that happened because there’s really no place for this in hockey," he told CBC. "As our team, we always push inclusiveness all the time.”
The incident is just one in a list of recent events that has raised questions surrounding hockey's push to be more inclusive, and whether or not enough is being done. Alongside the widely publicized incidents involving Ivan Provorov and the New York Rangers regarding their respective club's Pride nights, there was also the case of Jagger Joshua this past November and the alleged racial epithet directed at him.
Despite the discouraging comments, Denny, whose Eskasoni club won the game in a shootout, maintained that his team wouldn't let the distraction get in the way of their season.
"We're just going to continue and move forward and hope in the future that these types of things don't happen again."
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