by Joe Tasca on 01/16/13 at 05:00 PM ET
It looks like Penguins prospect Keven Veilleux has some explaining to do:
Winger Keven Veilleux has been suspended indefinitely by the ECHL's Wheeling Nailers for allegedly using a racial slur during a game against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
Veilleux is accused of using the slur during an altercation with South Carolina defenseman Scooter Vaughan, who is black. Veilleux and Vaughan fought two times during the game.
Nobody knows what Veilleux said, but apparently it was pretty bad. So bad, in fact, that the ECHL is conducting an official investigation, and Veilleux has been asked to offer a public apology:
(Nailers alternate governor Tim) Roberts said he spoke with Vaughan, who played 20 games with Wheeling last year and was with the team during training camp. Vaughan said ''It's not the first time and it won't be the last, but it was the worst,'' according to Roberts.
It's a horrible story, and Veilleux's going to have to pay the piper. Not surprisingly, when Tim Roberts spoke with Veilleux after the incident, the burly winger was extremely remorseful. Nevertheless, the Penguins organization had no choice but to issue an immediate suspension. Veilleux has to be held accountable for what was clearly an unacceptable remark.
With that said, it would be wrong for anyone who doesn't know Veilleux to use this episode to jump to conclusions about his integrity and character as a person. By all accounts, he's a very affable young man who's well-liked by his teammates. Unfortunately, he got caught up in the heat of the moment and said something completely inappropriate. It's not particularly surprising, especially for a 23-year-old.
Sure, Veilleux could've used a variety of other colorful insults to throw at Scooter Vaughan on Sunday, but in his rage, he crossed the line. It doesn't make his remark any more acceptable, but hopefully, hockey fans will step back and realize that Veilleux's indiscretion was nothing more than a prime example of an athlete taking leave of his senses in the midst of an emotional game.
Too many kids grow up hearing racial slurs at home, at school, in contemporary music, and on television. Because such slurs are so widely used in everyday speech and pop culture, some people don't even think twice about using them. These folks simply have no comprehension of how hurtful and distasteful racial epithets are, whether it's because of a lack of interaction with minorities or sheer oblivion.
There's a difference between bigotry and ignorance. And while there are plenty of racists in the world, it's not fair to paint someone who prominently displays his own ignorance with that kind of a brush. Keven Veilleux made a mistake, and now he must make amends. Unfortunately, his mistake is a common one. Luckily for Veilleux, North Americans are a forgiving bunch. Here's hoping he gets treated fairly, despite his idiocy.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.