In a case of he said-he said, the NHL sided--unsurprisingly-- against Sean Avery.
Although Wayne Simmonds did not deny using a homophobic slur against Avery after Monday's Rangers/Flyers preseason game, the 23-year-old Flyers forward apparently changed his stance during his hearing with NHL Executive Sr. VP of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell Tuesday.
That denial was sufficient for Campbell, who said the league could not substantiate* the incident took place.
Below is the full transcript of his statement:
“All Players, Coaches and Officials in the National Hockey League
deserve the respect of their peers, and have the absolute right to function
in a work environment that is free from racially or sexually-based innuendo
or derision. This is the National Hockey League’s policy and it will remain
so going forward.
“It also is important to emphasize that the National Hockey League
holds, and will continue to hold, our Players to higher standards with
respect to their conduct both on and off the ice. While we recognize that
the emotion involved in certain on-ice confrontations may lead to the use
of highly charged and sometimes offensive language and commentary, certain lines cannot be crossed. Specifically, we have for many years emphasized to our Clubs and Players that commentary directed at the race or ethnicity of other participants in the game (or even non-participants), or that is otherwise socially or morally inappropriate or potentially hurtful --
including as it may relate to sexual orientation -- is absolutely
unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
“With that as background, we have looked into the allegations
relating to the possible use of a homophobic slur by a Flyers player in the
Rangers/Flyers preseason game last night in Philadelphia. Since there are
conflicting accounts of what transpired on the ice, we have been unable to
substantiate with the necessary degree of certainty what was said and by
whom. Specifically, Flyers Player Wayne Simmonds has expressly denied usingthe homophobic slur he is alleged to have said. Additionally, none of the on-ice officials close to the altercation in question heard any inappropriate slurs uttered by either of the primary antagonists. In lightof this, we are unable at this time to take any disciplinary action with
respect to last night’s events. To the extent we become aware of additional
information conclusively establishing that an inappropriate slur was
invoked, we are reserving the option to revisit the matter.”
* While the league could not "substantiate" Avery's claims against Simmonds, the video clip of the incident was censored during the NHL's On the Fly show during the first intermission of the Islanders/Flames game in Calgary.