Hockey player Krystof Hrabik receives a 30-game suspension for directing a racist gesture against another AHL player

The American Hockey League on Friday suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik for 30 games after he made a racist gesture towards Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners during a Jan. 12 game.

A source told ESPN that Hrabik, 22, mimicked the movements of a monkey in a taunt that was aimed at Imama, who is black. The taunt was spotted by players on the Roadrunners bench, and Hrabik was confronted on the ice by Tucson’s Travis Barron while Imama was restrained by a linesman during a stoppage in play.

The American League became aware of the incident on January 13 and launched an investigation during which Hrabik was removed from all team activities.

Hrabik’s suspension includes the three games he missed during the investigation.

“The AHL stands with Boko Imama,” AHL President and CEO Scott Howson said in a statement. “It is unfair for a player to be subjected to comments or gestures based on their race; it should only be judged on their ability to perform as a player on the ice, as a teammate in the locker room and as a member of his community.

As part of the suspension, Hrabik will have the chance to work with the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee, which is led by NHL executive Kim Davis and co-chaired by New Jersey Devils defenseman PK Subban and the on-air analyst for TNT Anson Carter.

Hrabik will have the opportunity to participate in education and training activities on racism and inclusion. He can ask the AHL to return to the club after missing 21 games, and a decision will be “based on an assessment of his progress in the necessary education and training” with the Player Inclusion Committee.

The Barracuda and San Jose Sharks, their NHL parent team, apologized to Imama and “the entire hockey community” in a statement released Friday.

“While we support individuals’ ability to atone for and learn from disrespectful incidents in this context, these actions are in direct opposition to the values ​​of the Barracuda and Sharks organizations,” the team said.

Imama, 25, was drafted 180th overall in 2015 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The winger spent four years with the Los Angeles Kings organization before signing with AHL affiliate Arizona Coyotes last summer.

This is the second time an AHL player has been suspended for a racial slur directed at Imama. In January 2020, Bakersfield Condors defender Brandon Manning received a five-game suspension for using a racial slur towards Imama.

In 2021, Imama opened up about racism in hockey after an incident in the Ukrainian Hockey League in which Andrei Deniskin mimed peeling and eating a banana towards Jalen Smereck, who is black.

“I think it just hurts the sport because I think if it was more diverse, if everyone was more inclusive, I feel like it would reach a wider audience and it would just be better for the sport. sport,” Imama told the Arizona Republic at the time. “But when things like that happen, it’s just unfortunate for everyone.”

Catherine J. Martinez