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NHL commissioner Bettman condemns ´reprehensible´ Smith-Pelly abuse

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman described the behaviour of four Chicago Blackhawks fans who directed racist abuse at Devante Smith-Pelly as “reprehensible”.

The fans were ejected from the United Center during Saturday’s game between the Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals after heckling Smith-Pelly while he was in the penalty box.

The spectators yelled the word “basketball” at black player Smith-Pelly before being removed from the arena.

Their actions have already been condemned by the Blackhawks and Bettman has now expressed his dismay at the incident.

He said in a statement: “Last night in Chicago, individuals directed racial taunts and abuse at Washington Capitals player Devante Smith-Pelly.

“The National Hockey League condemns this unacceptable and reprehensible behaviour. The League fully supports the actions taken by the United Center and the Blackhawks to eject the offenders and would expect the same response to any similarly unacceptable behaviour at any of our arenas.

“While this incident was isolated in nature, no player, coach, official or fan should ever have to endure such abuse at one of our games.

“The League will take steps to have our clubs remind all stakeholders that they are entitled to enjoy a positive environment – free from unacceptable, inappropriate, disruptive, inconsiderate or unruly behaviours or actions and may not engage in conduct deemed detrimental to that experience.”