Part of the fallout from the chippy affair here in Philadelphia was the post-game questioning after a video of a first-period scrum clearly showed Wayne Simmonds mouthing a homophobic slur at Sean Avery, preceded by an f-bomb.
In the Rangers dressing room, Avery, who has been a public supporter of gay marriage, said that Simmonds did in fact use the term.
“It’s disappointing for me and the sport,” said Avery. “Kobe Bryant got fined 100 grand. Everything’s different now. It’s an issue that people are dealing with and trying to overcome; ten years ago maybe it wasn’t so much an issue. It’s certainly an issue politically, with people in the game and life in general.”
Down the corridor, Simmonds, who was acquired from Los Angles in the Mike Richards trade, said “we were going back and forth. I don’t recall every thing I did say to him, but he said some things to me I didn’t like, I guess I said some things he didn’t like…It was a scrum, I thought he sucker-punched me. We were going back and forth for the rest of the game, emotion runs high, we both exchanged words with each other.”
Asked if Avery said something to prompt a homophobic slur, Simmonds said:
“He’s Sean Avery. Who knows what comes out of his mouth. He definitely said some things to me I wasn’t too happy about. I can’t recall every single word he said. I’m not going to add it up.”
Rangers coach John Tortorella said that although he didn’t see the video, “I don’t think Sean Avery’s lying.”
Last week, Simmonds was answering questions about another sensitive matter, an act of bigotry. In London, Ontario, a fan threw a banana from the stands at him.
“It’s really disappointing,” Avery said. “When I saw that I thought, who would do that and why would you do it? It’s such an unnecessary thing.”
The next step? The league will likely question on-ice officials to verify....