Absent a suspension or fine, the Blackhawks' reaction to Andrew Shaw's anti-gay slur rings hollow.
Well, at least Andrew Shaw finally knows what he said.
In the aftermath of Tuesday's 4–3 loss to the Blues, the Blackhawks winger couldn't seem to recall yelling “F--- you, you f---ing f----t,” at a passing official while sitting in the penalty box.
“Emotions are high. I don’t know what’s said,” Shaw told reporters after the game. “I was obviously upset with the call, being late in game. It doesn’t give us a chance to tie it up.”
But on Wednesday afternoon, he dropped the tap dance and copped to spewing the homophobic slur.
“I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box," Shaw said in a team-issued statement. "When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances. I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful and I will learn from my mistake."
The team offered similar regrets.
“We are extremely disappointed in Andrew Shaw's actions last night," read the unattributed statement. "His comments do not reflect what we stand for as an organization. We are proud to have an inclusive and respectful environment, and to support various initiatives such as the You Can Play Project and the Chicago Gay Hockey Association. We will use this opportunity to further educate our players and organization moving forward, so that we all may learn from it."
And that, apparently, is that, as far as the team is concerned.
It's nice that there's learning afoot, and that the team has friends in the gay community. But the Hawks' support of those worthy organizations doesn't amount to much if their response to an incident like this is a simple tut-tut. They offer the buzzwords, but they won't back them up with a suspension or at least a fine.
It makes you wonder why those groups would even want to be associated with the team moving forward.
In the end, it's another black eye for the Blackhawks, a franchise that's suffered three too many of them this season. For all the talk about "what they stand for," these incidents, and their reactions to them, cast doubt on the character of this organization despite any regretful press releases.
So it was left up to the league to make a real statement. Speaking after its own partnership announcement with You Can Play back in 2013, commissioner Gary Bettman crowed about the league's support for the LGBT community. "We are delighted to reaffirm ... that the official policy of the NHL is one of inclusion on the ice, in our locker rooms and in the stands."
The league proved it was serious about creating an inclusive environment for all, announcing late Wednesday that Shaw will sit out a game for the slur. He'll also be relieved of $5,000 for flipping off the officials when he was penalized.
Enough of a punishment? That's debatable, but it would have been more heartening to see the Hawks come down on him a bit harder, too.