The Alberni Valley Bulldogs staved off elimination in the BC Hockey League playoffs with a 2-1 win over Langley Rivermen on Friday, April 22 in Port Alberni.
The celebration was short-lived, however, after the Bulldogs’ colour commentator made a racial slur about a player on-air and was kicked out after the second period.
The Bulldogs were leading 1-0 at the 13-minute mark of the second period when Bruce MacDonald made a racist comment about Langley Rivermen forward Owen Kim. The comment was heard by 93.3 the PEAK radio listeners as well as BCHL TV viewers, who quickly took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
A league official notified Bulldogs’ president David Michaud about the comments just before the end of the second period. “Jointly we decided on the spot Bruce would be removed from the broadcast,” Michaud said after the game. MacDonald has been banned from any future broadcast involving the Bulldogs or any other BCHL team.
“(Bruce) gets very passionate about the games, but what he said tonight was completely unacceptable,” Michaud added. “We have a 70-foot banner hanging in our arena that says there’s no place for racism in hockey. We acted quickly to make sure we stand behind those values.”
The Bulldogs and BC Hockey League issued a joint statement after the game, apologizing to Kim and his family “as well as anyone else who may have heard the comment. We have a zero tolerance for this type of behaviour,” the statement read.
The PEAK 93.3 FM, which broadcasts the Bulldogs’ games, also offered an apology to Kim, his family, the Bulldogs and the BCHL for MacDonald’s comments. “Racism has no place in hockey. Racism has no place on our radio stations nor in our company,” said Rob Bye, general manager, Vancouver Island for Pattison Media Ltd. “We stand with the BCHL and the Alberni Valley Bulldogs,” Bye said.
MacDonald issued an apology via Twitter on Saturday morning. He said he emailed an apology to the Langley Rivermen Friday night and attempted to reach Kim to apologize. “As I said in that letter, no one should be made to feel that way and I take full responsibility for my racist words. I’m deeply sorry for the hurt that I have caused Owen Kim, his family and anyone else who was affected by what I said,” MacDonald wrote.
Langley’s Daniel O’Neill tied the game 1-1 at 18:38 of the second period. Bulldogs’ Josh Van Unen scored the game winner for the host Bulldogs at 7:38 of the third period. The Bulldogs out-shot Langley 35-22.
The teams return to Langley on Saturday, April 23 with the Rivermen holding a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Coastal Conference semifinal series.