The Kent-based Seattle Thunderbirds removed two players from its hockey roster for “communicating inappropriate racial comments and actions toward a third player” in the team locker room, according to a T-Birds statement.
The incident occurred during the week leading up to the start of the 2020-2021 season on March 19 at the accesso ShoWare Center. The start of the season was delayed due to COVID-19 and a shortened 24-game season is being played.
“We thoroughly investigated this incident upon learning of it by conducting interviews of the team and staff,” T-Birds general manager Bil La Forge said in a statement released Thursday, March 25. “The Seattle Thunderbirds have a zero-tolerance policy for comments and actions that are racially insensitive or bullying.”
La Forge did not name the players dropped from the team and said the team will have no further comment on this incident beyond what’s in the statement.
“Effective immediately the two players are no longer on the T-Birds roster,” La Forge said. “The two players removed from the roster will continue their education and personal growth in this area. We will use this incident to further emphasize that comments of this nature will not be tolerated and further emphasis will be placed on educational programming in this area.”
La Forge said the Western Hockey League has a zero-tolerance policy for racism, and any other form of abuse, and is committed to providing a safe and positive environment for all players. Each year, the WHL delivers extensive Players First educational programs to ensure players and team staff understand the importance of respect and know how to prevent hazing, abuse, harassment and bullying.
He said all members of the T-Birds completed Respect in Hockey educational programming and Respect in Sport certification, which includes specific programming on racism and diversity, prior to the start of the 2020-21 WHL season.