LONDON, Ont. – Police have charged a 26-year-old man over an apparent racial incident in which a banana was thrown on the ice while a black player was taking part in a shootout during an NHL pre-season game.
Police say Chris Moorhouse of London, Ont., has been served a summons for engaging in a prohibited activity under the provincial Trespass to Property Act.
If convicted, he faces a fine of up to $2,000.
London police Chief Brad Duncan said the offence did not meet the threshold of a hate crime or mischief.
“You have to demonstrate and be motivated by hatred,” he told a news conference Wednesday. “Although the banana did hit the ice it did not interfere with the play so it didn’t meet the mischief threshold.”
Attempts to reach Moorhouse were unsuccessful.
The incident occurred last Thursday during the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4-3 exhibition win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The banana was thrown from the stands as Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds—who is black—was skating towards Detroit goalie Jordan Pearce in the shootout before 7,427 at the 9,090-seat John Labatt Centre.
Simmonds, who had forced overtime with a late goal, scored on the play.
Duncan said police acted on a complaint by arena management. The information received by police came “from a variety of sources,” he said, including social media.
“Clearly, the incident became the focus of the local community and across the national and international plane,” Duncan said. “Mr. Moorhouse has expressed remorse for his actions and I ask that the public let the court process unfold.
“I’ve heard the term vigilantism. We certainly don’t want that.”
Duncan said Moorhouse has retained a lawyer. A court date has not been set.
Duncan said it’s the first incident of its kind at the Labatt Centre.
On Monday, Simmonds landed in hot water for an alleged homophobic slur to New York Rangers’ agitator Sean Avery during an exhibition game in Philadelphia.
The NHL held a hearing with Simmonds on Tuesday but chose not to discipline him because it felt there wasn’t sufficient evidence to do so.
London Mayor Joe Fontana issued an apology after the banana-throwing incident, calling “a stupid and mindless act by a single individual.”