When Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban ended last night's double-overtime thriller with a power play bomb from the point, we were reminded of two things.
First, Subban is a transcendent talent, one of the most thrilling players in the game today.
Second, there is no shortage of 18th century views on social media.
Where disgraced Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling had the "decency" to limit his racist opinions to what he thought were private conversations, the Twitter-verse is filled with people who revel in sharing their ignorance with the world. And they showed up en masse early this morning to target Subban who, aside from being a terrific player, also happens to be black.
According to Montreal media monitoring and analysis company Influence Communications, the N-word and Subban's name were used in conjunction on 17,000 tweets yesterday.
So many mentions that the slur was trending this morning in Boston. (This claim has been debunked.)
Heck of a moment for that town.
Sadly, it perpetuates the image of Boston being the most racist city north of the Mason-Dixon and sullies the reputation of an organization whose leading goal scorer, Jarome Iginla, is black.
Bruins president Cam Neely felt compelled to issue this statement:
"The racist, classless views expressed by an ignorant group of individuals following Thursday's game via digital media are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization."
Of course they're not.
It's wildly unfair that they're being painted with this broad brush, but there remains a shamefully large number of Bruins fans who were glad for the opportunity to share their hate. And it's not like this was a one-off occurrence.
Fortunately, many others from Boston and around the hockey world chimed in with their disgust and embarrassment. But that doesn't erase the shame.
Hate like that stains.
You have to wonder what Subban's brother makes of this. Malcolm Subban is one of Boston's top prospects and is being groomed to succeed Tuukka Rask at some point down the road. Every indication suggests this kid is mentally tough enough to push that noise to the background. But what if he decides after this that it's not worth it?
Could anyone blame him if he wanted out?
You can bet the organization will give him all the support he needs, but you know this won't be the last time this happens.
Hopefully that next time won't be as ugly.
I liked what President Barack Obama had to say the other day about the Sterling incident: "When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don't really have to do anything, you just let them talk."
He's saying that those ideas tend not to do so well in the light. By putting them out there, these people are forced to defend their positions.
Maybe a few of them will realize they're standing on tenuous ground.
None of this means that Bruins fans can't get their sports-hate on for P.K. Subban. There are plenty of reasons to make him a target. He's cocky. He's borderline dirty. He just lit your team up for an OT winner. The color of his skin isn't one of them.