An exhibition NHL game in London, Ontario was marred by an apparently racist incident Thursday night when a fan threw a banana peel toward black Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. This occurred as Simmonds took part in a shootout during his team's pre-season game against the Detroit Red Wings. One report said bananas were actually thrown at Simmonds twice during the game, but it was only during the shootout that one reached the ice.
Is it possible the fan who threw the banana(s) was concerned about Simmonds' potassium level and was sending a subtle message? Could it be the fan was trying to expand on the Legend of the Octopus? No, I'm not buying those theories either.
Both the NHL and several players (current and former) were quick to condemn the actions of the fan. On Twitter, Norton Sports, a Chicago-based athletics management company, offered a $500 reward for the identity of the suspect.
In a league that is approximately 93% white, ugly incidents like this are bound to happen. As the NHL becomes more racially diverse, it's possible we may see a rise in this type of behavior by some white fans threatened by blacks taking over "their" sport. However, with the NHL and others speaking out against this type of nonsense, hopefully that isn't the case.
Side note: Simmonds demonstrated that he has thick skin by scoring on the shootout (one of two goals he netted during the game). However, the Red Wings prevailed 4-3.