Willie O’Ree was the first African-American NHL player — for the Bruins. So let’s hope a good series by P.K. Subban doesn’t become a racial thing for Boston.

I’m a big fan of the Canadiens right now — they’re Canada’s best (read: only) hope, for chrissakes — and the rest of the playoffs, minus the Wild and Rangers, feels like a bunch of teams that won it all within the past 3-4 years (Pens, Bruins, Blackhawks, Kings, even Ducks). I love the city of Boston — if someone would hire me there, I’d be there in a second — but seeing a Canadian team run to the Cup (I know, there’s a lot of hockey left) would be interesting.

Last night, P.K. Subban netted the game-winner in 2OT. The video’s embedded above. Subban happens to be African-American, meaning he’s fairly rare in hockey, and the racist stuff came out soon after. Here’s a great one!


There’s a two-fold awkwardness to all this:

1. The first-ever African-American player in the NHL, Willie O’Ree, was a Bruin. A couple of people have noted that on social as well:

2. Malcolm Subban, P.K.’s younger brother, is in the Bruins’ organization.

Look, the sad fact is, we’ve come a long way on racism in broader society — but we’re still not really all the way live on that front, especially in heated moments (like 2OT games). Subban’s had issues around this even in Canada (where he plays!). It’s not necessarily going to go away — especially on a medium like Twitter, where people can fire off a quick message and essentially have no broader consequence unless they’re a celebrity or a brand — but it’s a shame to see Bostonians do it for (a) basic human decency reasons, (b) the two reasons above and (c) that’s a city that’s barely a year removed from a massive, cultural canon tragedy of its own. What if Montreal residents started dropping tweets about the Bruins “bombing” games or “blowing up” the roster or whatever? People need to remember that intense sporting events aren’t justification enough for removing compassion from the equation. Phrased another way?

Ted Bauer