PHILADELPHIA – The NHL’s pre-season has taken another ugly turn with an apparent homophobic slurin a penalty-filled game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Rangers.
The Atlantic Division rivals combined for 77 penalty minutes in Philadelphia’s 5-3 victory on Monday, and more discipline could be coming from the NHL when the league sorts everything out.
The alleged slur was directed by Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds at noted New York agitator Sean Avery.
Avery and Simmonds were at odds in the first period, and television cameras caught Simmonds arguing with Avery, appearing to utter the slur.
When Avery was asked after the game if Simmonds called him “what we think he called you,” he answered: “Yeah, yeah.”
Avery said he had “no idea” why Simmonds would make such a remark.
This marks the second controversy in two weeks for Simmonds, who is black. Last week, a banana was thrown at him from the stands during a pre-season game in London, Ont.
Simmonds didn’t deny using the slur toward Avery.
“Honestly, we were going back and forth for a while there,” he said, without providing details. “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.
“I can’t recall every single word I said.”
Simmonds was asked what Avery said and if it crossed the line.
“I’m not going to rat him out,” he said.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette didn’t comment on Monday’s exchange. As for what he saw of it, Laviolette said, “It was a couple of guys battling out there.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella took the matter a step further.
“I didn’t hear it. I don’t think Sean Avery is lying,” he said. “I’ll let the league handle it. I did not hear it, but I’m sure Sean Avery isn’t going to lie about it.”
Just before that incident, Philadelphia’s Tom Sestito racked up 20 minutes in penalties after boarding New York’s Andre Deveaux behind the net in a move that will likely draw another suspension for the Flyers.
After the play, Sestito and Stu Bickel fought, resulting in misconducts for both players. Bickel also was given an instigator penalty.