BOSTON – P.K. Subban says his social media haters have nothing to do with the Boston Bruins or their fans.
The Montreal defenceman, who is black, was the target of racial abuse on Twitter and other social media forums after his double-overtime winner Thursday night in Game 1 of the Canadiens’ second-round playoff series with the Bruins.
Coaches and players from both teams, along with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and the mayors from both cities, decried the abuse.
Subban, himself, did not speak publicly until after Game 2 Saturday, won 5-3 by Boston.
“First thing first, the Boston Bruins are an Original Six franchise, they have been around for a very long time, they are respected,” said Subban, telling reporters it was “the first time and probably the last time” he would comment on the issue.
“It’s completely unfair for anybody to point the finger at the organization or the fan base. They have passionate fans here, great fan base and since I’ve been in the league it’s been awesome. I’ve come to Boston many times, my family has come here and it’s been great. What people may say on Twitter or social media is not a reflection by any means of the league or the Boston Bruins. So whoever that is, they’ll get dealt with, but it’s completely separate from this league or the Boston Bruins organization.”
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien met with Subban on Friday night to see how he was feeling and to ensure his player knew he had the team’s support.
“He’s got a lot of character, that kid,” Therrien said prior to Saturday’s game.
“But like he said, and from my standpoint too, it’s more important that we’re here to sell the game, we’re here to win a hockey game, we’re here to compete,” Therrien told reporters. “We’re not here to talk about a few bad people that put some comments on the Internet.”
Therrien said Subban, 24, spent part of Friday with his family.
Bettman spoke out against the racial abuse when asked about it before Saturday’s game.
“I fully endorse and support the comment that (Boston president) Cam Neely and the Bruins issued,” he said. “We are about diversity and inclusiveness. We condemn bias and hatred. It has no place in our game and it’s not acceptable.”
Subban, as he was in Game 1, was booed every time whenever he had the puck Saturday. He had two assists on the day.
“It’s unfortunate when things take away from the great hockey that was played two days ago,” Subban said.
He also talked of the NHL’s diversity—”tons of players from different backgrounds, from different places around the world and that’s what makes this league so special and that’s what makes sports so special. It brings everybody together.”