Unfortunately for him, it’s not been the good sort of “busy”.
Last week, Simmonds was the subject of a racial incident at an exhibition game against the Detroit Red Wings in London Ontario. While coming in on a shootout attempt, someone threw a banana at him:
Luckily, though, the London Free Press is reporting that there may be a crack in the case.
Then, just yesterday, Simmonds was again in the spotlight following a game against the New York Rangers. That’s because New York forward Sean Avery accused Simmonds of using homophobic slur against him during the game.
During the post-game interviews, Simmonds sort-of defended himself:
"Honestly, we were going back and forth for awhile there and I don't recall every single thing I said to him, but he said some things I didn't like and I said some things he didn't like. But, I can't recall every single word I said."Sean Avery also brought up a somewhat rather valid point – that the NBA fined Kobe Bryant $100,000 earlier in the year for using the same slur during a regular season game.
Then, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, whose late son Brendan was openly gay, and who has since become an advocate for the gay community, came out with the following statement:
"Hate speech and anti-gay slurs have no place on the ice rink. The word that Simmonds used is the same word that is hurled at LGBT youth on the playground and in our schools, creating a climate of intolerance and hostility. He should not only apologize for this anti-gay outburst, but the Philadelphia Flyers and the NHL have a responsibility to take action and educate their fans about why this word is unacceptable."As a result of all this brouhaha, Simmonds was called into the League office today to discuss the incident. The verdict? There’s not enough conclusive evidence to prove that Simmonds was in the wrong.
Defending the League's stance, Colin Campbell had this to say:
"It is important to emphasize that the National Hockey League holds, and will continue to hold, our Players to higher standards with respect to their conduct both on and off the ice. While we recognize that the emotion involved in certain on-ice confrontations may lead to the use of highly charged and sometimes offensive language and commentary, certain lines cannot be crossed. Specifically, we have for many years emphasized to our Clubs and Players that commentary directed at the race or ethnicity of other participants in the game (or even non-participants), or that is otherwise socially or morally inappropriate or potentially hurtful -- including as it may relate to sexual orientation -- is absolutely unacceptable and will not be tolerated."I guess Campbell doesn't pay attention to the blogosphere much:
*Stick tap to Puck Daddy for pointing out this video.
I'm not a certified lip reader, but I think we can all take a pretty good guess as to the point that Simmonds was trying to make to Avery.
These two ugly incidents, coupled with the ridiculous amount of head hits and subsequent suspensions, is making the NHL look like it’s out there on the rink with two left skates on. Not a good start.