Such is the world and social media that after a talented black hockey player, who's worked hard and shown himself to be a quality person, reaches a new pinnacle in his career, he becomes the target of racists taunts.
That is what's happened to Joel Ward, 31, the Canadian forward who plays for the Washington Capitals of the NHL. Ward scored the game-winning goal early in the first overtime period of his team's 2-1, game 7 win in Boston on April 25, eliminating the champion Bruins and sending his jubilant teammates into the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Wow, what a feeling.
Then came the social media taunts, postings on Twitter that were directed at Ward, who's from Toronto, because he's black. Some of the tweets suggested he should not be playing a "white" sport and given Boston is the club Ward's goal sent packing from the playoffs, it seem logical that some, or all, came from persons who are fans of the Bruins. There were dozens of racists tweets but they don't seem to be getting in the way of Ward's enjoyment of his achievement.
Ward's agent: "He's put it in his back pocket"
The hard-working winger was undrafted coming out of the University of Prince Edward Island but played with the Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators before being signed by Washington. The owner of Washington, Ted Leonis, has denounced the remarks and Ward himself has said that he is not allowing them to take away from the moment; he also said he has never before encountered racism in hockey.
His agent, Peter Cooney, told the Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada that the remarks were "appalling", "disturbing" and "disgraceful" but added that they are not getting to his client. “He’s put it in his back pocket so to speak,” Ward's agent said. “It’s very disappointing but it doesn’t take any of the success that Joel's had away.”