Wayne Simmonds is making headlines again, but this time he’s not the victim of an offensive act, he’s the guy dishing one out, according to Rangers forward Sean Avery.
New York’s Avery alleges that the Philly forward called him a homophobic slur during the first period of Monday night’s 5-3 Flyers win over the Rangers.
The alleged slur was even caught on camera.
Simmonds, who says that Avery sucker-punched him early in the first, neither denies nor confirms the incident.
“Honestly, we were going back and forth for a while there,'' he said. “I don't recall everything that I did say to him, but he said to me some things I didn't like. And maybe I said some things that he didn't like.”
Avery, an advocate for the LGBT community, maintains that he did nothing to prompt the name-calling.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is leading the charge that Simmonds be punished.
“Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink,” GLAAD acting president Mike Thompson said in a statement. “The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility.
“He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable.”
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The NHL came out Tuesday night with a release that said Simmonds wouldn't face fine or suspension for the alleged altercation with Avery.
“...We have looked into the allegations relating to the possible use of a homophobic slur by a Flyers player in the Rangers/Flyers preseason game last night in Philadelphia,” said Colin Campbell, National Hockey League Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations in the statement. “Since there are conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice, we have been unable to substantiate with the necessary degree of certainty what was said and by whom. Specifically, Flyers Player Wayne Simmonds has expressly denied using the homophobic slur he is alleged to have said. Additionally, none of the on-ice officials close to the altercation in question heard any inappropriate slurs uttered by either of the primary antagonists. In light of this, we are unable at this time to take any disciplinary action with respect to last night's events.”
Simmonds could possibly still face action if more information comes to light.
“To the extent we become aware of additional information conclusively establishing that an inappropriate slur was invoked, we are reserving the option to revisit the matter,” Campbell said.
Just last week, the Simmonds was the victim of alleged racism when a fan threw a banana at him on the ice as he prepared for a shootout in the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario.
“When you’re black, you kind of expect (racist) things. You learn to deal with it,” Simmonds said.
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