Chicago Blackhawks Fans Ejected After Hurling Racist Taunts At Black Player

Alex DeBrincat #12 of the Chicago Blackhawks collides with Tom Wilson #43 and Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals at the United Center on February 17, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. GETTY IMAGES

Updated | Four Chicago Blackhawks fans were ejected from their home arena on Saturday night for racially taunting a black player from the visiting Washington Capitals.

The four fans at the United Center yelled, "Basketball, basketball, basketball" at forward Devante Smith-Pelly while he was in the penalty box during the third period, a spokesperson for the Capitals confirmed to ESPN and other news outlets.

The Blackhawks won the game, 7-1, but the fans' actions cost the team the respect of many.

"There's absolutely no place in the game of hockey or in our country for racism," Capitals coach Barry Trotz told reporters after the game.

“There’s absolutely no place in the game of hockey or in our country for racism.” — #Caps Coach Barry Trotz on an incident involving Devante Smith-Pelly on Saturday in Chicago. Four fans were ejected for taunting DSP when he was in penalty box.

— Tarik El-Bashir (@Tarik_ElBashir) February 18, 2018

In a statement, the Blackhawks said the team is "committed to providing an inclusive environment for everyone who attends our games and these actions will never be tolerated."

Statement from Blackhawks:

— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) February 18, 2018

Saturday's incident came after the refs punished Smith-Pelly with a five-minute penalty for fighting Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy.

Smith-Pelly was also involved in an altercation with fans on Thursday in a 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild. According to Bleacher Report, Smith-Pelly squirted a heckling fan with his water bottle.

This is Smith-Pelly's seventh year in the National Hockey League and his first with the Caps. He is one 30 black players in the league. He has 7 goals and 9 assists in 54 games.

Last year, in an interview with the Toronto Star, Smith-Pelly opened up about a similar incident from his rookie season in 2011, when a fan told Smith-Pelly to "go back to playing basketball" at a rookie tournament in Penticton, British Columbia.

"I can't go to anyone on my team and have them understand really how it is to be in my shoes. Just because I'm a professional hockey player: they just don't understand. So it's really lonely in that sense. You don't really have anyone," Smith-Pelly told the Star.

The NHL has designated February as its "Hockey Is For Everyone" month, which "uses the game of hockey to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities."

The incident in Chicago has an added irony: Many groups have been calling on the Windy City team to change its name, which some feel is racist towards Native Americans. The team's logo is a profile of a tribal leader in a feathered headdress.