After learning that a team of teenage First Nations hockey players were targeted with racist comments at a game last spring, St. Louis Blues star forward Ryan O’Reilly took the opportunity as he visited Ottawa this week to invite the whole team to watch the Blues battle the Senators on Thursday night.
The First Nation Elites Bantam AAA hockey team, a group of 13- to 15-year-olds from Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, were participating in a tournament in Quebec City in May 2018 when they were taunted with racist gestures and language and hurtful chants from opposing players, parents and even a coach, according to media reports of the incident at the time.
O’Reilly’s mother reportedly read about the incident in the news and called her son to tell him about it.
“I think both me and my mom were upset about it,” the 28-year-old hockey player from Clinton, Ont. said in an interview with stlouisblues.com. “That’s not what the game is about. We say Hockey Is For Everyone, and that was just disgusting. There’s no place in the game for it.”
O’Reilly reportedly bought 35 tickets in the Canadian Tire Centre’s lower bowl for Thursday night’s NHL game so each player on the young team could also bring along a parent.a