Last night at a London, Ontario hockey arena, a fan threw a banana on the ice while a player was attempting to score a shoot out goal. The player, Wayne Simmonds, is a black man.
Scarborough native, Wayne Simmonds, plays for the Philedehphia Flyers organization in the National Hockey League. Many young kids across Canada and the States would say that he is playing his 'dream.'
Last night, the monsters abruptly interrupted that dream when a spectator in the stands at the John Labatt Centre in London, ON, threw a banana onto the ice just before Simmonds took his teams first shot in the game deciding shoot out. The Flyers were playing against this Southerwestern Ontario's hometown fan favorites, the Detroit Red Wings.
Simmonds had scored a goal late in the third period, tying the score 3-3, sending the game into Overtime and ultimately, to the shoot out. According to NBC Sports, another banana peel was tossed at the ice at that time, but it did not make it to ice level, instead landing in the stands below.
A question was asked on 640 am talk radio this morning, should the city lose the privilege of hosting preseason games all together? Can we hold one individual's ignorant act against an entire fan base in small town Ontario?
On behalf of the town of London, the mayor Joe Fontana, issued an apology to Simmonds and the Flyers organization:
As Mayor, and on behalf of Londoners, I am sending an apology to Wayne Simmonds and the Philadelphia Flyers organization regarding the incident at last night's exhibition game. It was a stupid and mindless act by a single individual, however it reflects badly on our entire community. London is a diverse and welcoming city and we like it that way.
The COO and President of Comcost-Spectator, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and the company who manages the John Labatt Centre, also issued a statement. Peter Luukko said:
It appeared as though a fan threw an object onto the ice during the shootout. Unfortunately, we weren't able to identify the individual. We certainly don't condone such a foolish act (like this) as a player could potentially be seriously injured. This is ninth time we have played here in London and the fans have always been wonderful to us. The Flyers consider this our 'home away from home' and that's because this city, the fans and this spectacular arena have been so supportive of the Philadelphia Flyers.
One caller to the John Oakley Show on AM640, was passionate in her defense of that question. The point was made that there were 5,000+ others in the arena at the time. The caller says that even though the organization could not identify the perpetrator, this was not an act that was carried out in isolation. He or she was probably at the game with others. The individual responsible was sitting beside, below and above others who surely saw what they did.
Simmonds told reporters after the game:
I don't know if it had anything to do with the fact I'm black. I certainly hope not. When you're black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it.