Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw was suspended one game in April 2016 for uttering an anti-gay slur while heading to the penalty box.
The NHL ruled Maple Leafs' defenseman Morgan Rielly "did not direct a homophobic slur" at a referee during Toronto's matchup with the Lightning on Monday night.
A microphone on Sportsnet's broadcast caught an individual shouting "f---ing f-----," late in the second period at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. It is unclear who uttered the slur, though Morgan Rielly did skate past a referee as Sportsnet's mic picked up the homophobic slur.
"Following a thorough investigation, the National Hockey League has determined that Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly did not direct a homophobic slur at referee Brad Meier during last night's game with the Tampa Bay Lightning at Scotiabank Arena," Colin Campbell, the NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations said in a statement released on Tuesday. "League officials interviewed several of the participants in the game – including Rielly and Meier – and reviewed audio of the alleged incident. All of those interviewed adamantly denied that Rielly uttered a slut and the audio supported their statements."
Warning: the video below contains a homophobic slur:
During tonight's @TBLightning - @MapleLeafs game, microphones picked up a player using a homophobic slur seemingly directed towards a referee. Not entirely sure who the player was, but it seems like Morgan Rielly was that player based on reports.— Hockey Daily (@HockeyDaily365) March 12, 2019
NSFW (around 6 seconds). pic.twitter.com/O0eI5KV5uQ
Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas released a statement on Monday night.
"The Club is aware of the reports surrounding a homophobic slur used during the Maple Leags versus Lighting game on Monday night." Dubas said. "The issue of homophobia is one the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club strongly condems and takes very seriously. We are in communication with the NHL and are cooperating fully with their office.
The NHL has handled a similar incident before. Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw was suspended one playoff game in April 2016 after shouting an anti-gay slur from the penalty box.
Rielly has been with Toronto since entering the NHL in 2013. He has 49 career goals and 187 assists. The Maple Leafs are third in the Eastern Conference Atlantic Division at 42–21–5.