Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw Should Be Suspended For His Slur
We could be talking about the Chicago Blackhawks being down 3-1 in their Stanley Cup Playoffs first-round series against the St. Louis Blues. We should be talking about that in some fashion or another, getting ready for a critical Game 5 on Thursday. Instead, we’re going to be talking about Andrew Shaw using a homophobic slur. And we’ll be talking about it for a while.
For those who missed it (be glad you fell asleep before this game concluded, as things went off the rails late), here’s a video of Shaw pretty clearly using the “F word” in the direction of an on-ice official after committing a stupid but obvious penalty late in Tuesday’s game.
Yeah, so this is beyond bad. Add to this the Blackhawks have recently partnered with the You Can Play Project, which aims to create fair environments for LGBT athletes across all sports, and you’ve got one hell of a problem on your hands.
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So what are the Blackhawks going to do about this? Apparently, they’re just going the apology route. Shaw spoke with the media today after both he and the Blackhawks released relatively flimsy statements this morning. According to the beat writers in attendance, Shaw seemed genuinely upset and uncomfortable during this press conference. Afterward, Shaw sought out Chicago Tribune reporter Chris Hine, who is openly gay, and apologized directly to him as well.
So there’s a lot to tackle here. It is good Shaw actually held a press conference less than 24 hours after his slur to apologize, and hopefully he did this on his own accord and not just because the organization told him to. Shaw said he had trouble sleeping last night after what transpired, which hopefully is also true. He deserves to have felt that way, frankly.
But you get the feeling this is where the punishment will end from the Blackhawks’ side. And it’s not much of a punishment anyway. A public shaming, perhaps, but it’s hardly even that. The Blackhawks didn’t need much backup to justify at least a one-game ban for Shaw, but they probably won’t do that now given the press conference. That leaves it up to the NHL, which could very easily suspend Shaw as well. It would be justified in doing so.
Some Blackhawks fans will express disgust or shock at the idea of Shaw getting suspended for using a slur, no doubt arguing it was done in the heat of battle and out of frustration, or that people have the right to say whatever they want within reason. Well, this is well beyond “within reason,” and being frustrated is not a fair reason to use a homophobic slur, especially given the struggles the NHL and other pro sports leagues have had not coming off as homophobic and not accepting of the LGBT community.
The ironic thing, from a Blackhawks fan standpoint, is that there is no doubt a segment of individuals who were horrified St. Louis Cardinals fans reportedly used a racial slur to greet Chicago Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward at Busch Stadium on Monday, but they’re totally fine with Shaw clearly and obviously using a homophobic slur on live television.
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To those fans, I say shame on you. You can’t have it both ways. Stop standing up for your guy’s obviously awful action just because he’s “your guy.”
And that same advice should be given to the Blackhawks. They’ve had a horrible season, PR-wise, and it’s made them very hard to root for and support in certain corners of the fan base. From the handling of Patrick Kane‘s alleged rape to the handling of Garret Ross’ alleged revenge porn case and now on to Shaw’s slur, the Blackhawks have essentially said “We’ll learn from this” over and over again. But they’re not learning anything, and they’re not actually doing anything to show they care about these issues.
But we’re on Shaw now, and we should be for a while. He’s a hard-playing guy who always gives you 110 percent, but that doesn’t mean we should be defending his actions last night. They were disgusting, and he deserves to be punished and lambasted for them. The punishment will probably come from the NHL at this point, but the criticism needs to come from Blackhawks fans, not just those who didn’t like Shaw to begin with.