Miami Herald sports writer George Richards reports that Florida Panthers tough-guy Krystofer Barch was tossed from the Panthers-Canadiens game New Year’s Eve when linesman Darren Gibbs heard him make a racist comment to Habs defenceman P.K. Subban after a scrum beside the Panthers net at the end of the first period.
Pat Hickey, in a brief paragraph on the incident, writes that Subban and the other Canadiens did not hear any racial slur.
“Personally I didn’t hear anything,” Subban told the Associated Press. “I don’t even know what happened, really.”
Panthers coach Kevin Dinnen told the Miami Herald: “We have a broken up player back there. He feels extremely bad there was an insinuation that something inappropriate was said. Now it’s a league matter. Obviously the Florida Panthers and Krys Barch are really shaken up about this.”
The Miami Herald reports that Panthers general partner Cliff Viner was shaken up when he heard about the incident.
“This is not what the character of this organization is about, period,” said Viner. “I’m devastated by that kind of behaviour. This is not what we’re about as an organization, a team, a coaching staff, hockey operations.”
The Herald writes that Habs forward Erik Cole said he heard something but wasn’t sure what it was. The article states – “To paraphrase, (Cole) said it could have been something related to Subban’s parents.”
If it turns out Barch did indeed say something racist to Subban, let’s hope the League takes it seriously and gives Barch the sort of punishment that will discourage others from even thinking of making similar comments.
P.S. This just in, mid-afternoon Sunday. Richards from the Miami Herald reports that Barch’s agent Scott Norton is defending his client, saying that the comment was misconstrued. “and didn’t have any racial undertones nor was a slur. It may have been a misunderstanding or taken out of context.”
Barch was on the bench at the time and linesman Gibb was between Barch and Subban when the remark was made. Subban had just been fighting with Florida D-man Erik Gudbranson and was headed back to the Habs bench when Barch said something to him.
My question is – if there was really no racial slur, why did Gibbs report the incident to the head official and then the officials decide to give Barch a game misconduct? Why would they do that if Gibbs had said something inoccuous?
Barch’s agent admits Barch said something but that it wasn’t a racial slur. But if that’s the case, why doesn’t his agent come clean and tell the public what the Panthers player said?
The NHL is expected to rule on the case today.