When reports surfaced Saturday that Florida Panthers enforcer Krys Barch was ejected from the game for using a racial slur against Montreal Canadiens player P.K. Subban, a Canadian-native with Jamaican parents, everyone just sort of assumed Barch had dropped a N-bomb or something equally vile. Barch quickly defended himself though, and claimed "it was nowhere near a racial slur nor that intent." Turns out the truth is a bit murkier -- but regardless, Barch has been suspended for one game.
The insult came toward the end of the first period after Subben got into a fight on the ice with Florida player Erik Gudbranson. Subben lost his balance, and according to unnamed sources spilling to the Miami Herald, Barch quipped something akin to asking Subben if he had "slipped on a banana peel."
To our ears at least, that would indicate that Barch is just a devotee of hackneyed pratfalls. The art of slipping on a banana peel has been a staple of physical comedy since at least 1910. Yahoo! Sports blogs Puck Daddy adds that, "a former NHLer texted us this morning to say it's 'commonly used when a guy goes down in purpose in a fight to avoid getting his ass kicked.'"
Though, Deadspin points out that the NHL has a history of bananas being used in racially insensitive displays before, specifically in Canada. Barch and Subben are both native Canadians. Two black players have had heckling fans throw banana peels at them in apparently racially-motivated displays equating blacks to monkeys. The latest such incident occurred just this past September.
So, its, at the very least, understandable why someone, somewhere apparently though Barch could have been making light of such bigotry by asking Subben if he had slipped on a banana peel.
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Plus, there's the fact that Barch himself said this morning that, "the things I said were pretty explicit and maybe not for kids' ears, so that's why I can't repeat it. My grandma wouldn't want to hear it, let's put it that way."
We're pretty sure that our grandmothers can handle hearing the word "banana." Perhaps his exact phrasing of the quip was a bit more vulgar than what the Herald is reporting.
Regardless, Barch and his representatives have said repeatedly that his quip wasn't racially motivated. The Panthers will not further punish Barch, and he will only sit out tonight's game versus the New York Rangers.