DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche are back in Denver after two games in St. Louis, but the racist, hate-filled comments from some Blues fans continue to follow the team.
Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri has the been the center of racist rants and even death threats online following a collision with Blues defenseman Calle Rosen and Blues goalie Jordan Binnington in Game 3.
Binnington was hurt in the collision and is likely out for the remainder of the playoff series. That sent some Blues fans into a racist tirade online.
Kadri’s wife posted some of the racist comments, which include many derogatory statements about Kadri’s Lebanese decent and Muslim faith.
The Avalanche forward came out in Game 4 with the playoff performance of a lifetime, recording a hat trick and pushing the Blues closer to elimination.
While Kadri’s performance on the ice silenced the team, some of the racist rants got even louder. He and his family have been subjected to incredibly racist and disturbing comments online, even prompting extra security at Monday night's game.
"This is a player who literally had to get escorted by law enforcement to the playing surface, to the ice,” said Denver sports radio host Zach Bye of Stokley and Zach on 104.3 The Fan.
Bye called the racist attacks ugly and vicious.
"Of course, death threats, racial remarks have no place in sports,” Bye said. “And the concerning thing was — it wasn't just from one or two people. The posts that have been made public through screen shots from Nazem Kadri's wife are just deeply disturbing."
“Here we go again,” said Katia Campbell, a race and rhetoric expert at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Campbell says the danger of this kind of hate speech is the close connection between rhetoric and action.
“So, it does matter when we have this kind of language circulating in our society," Campbell said. “It's callous at the individual level, but it's also callous and hurtful at the social level. Words harm.”
Some argue Blues fans were perhaps emboldened by their coach and his comments after the game.
"Look at Kadri's reputation,” said St. Louis coach Craig Berube. “That's all I've got to say."
“Craig Berube, the coach of St. Louis, had an opportunity to defuse this situation, and he didn't,” Bye said. “And you could argue that he actually stoked the flames of his own fan base.”
The NHL Players' Association condemned the offensive comments saying, "…such racist and hate-filled speech directed at anyone is unacceptable…"
“We do have a serious problem,” Campbell said. “Too many people are diminishing this issue."
Campbell says she’s not advocating for censorship, but says words can trigger and incite others.
“I’m not saying we need to silence voices,” Campbell said. “I am saying that we need to elevate public reason.”
The Denver Police Department told Denver7 late Tuesday that it, too, is “currently looking into a threat.” The department issued a statement that said, in part, “We are working with the team and Kroenke Sports executives and will continue to monitor for any other potential issues.”
"I know what was said isn’t a reflection on every single fan in St. Louis," Kadri said in the Game 4 postgame press conference. “But for those that wasted their time sending messages like that, I feel sorry for them."