NHL: Leafs’ Rielly didn’t utter anti-gay slur

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The NHL said Tuesday that Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly did not direct an anti-gay slur at referee Brad Meier during Monday night’s game.

The league conducted an investigation after microphones picked up a phrase during a game at Toronto against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Online videos appeared to implicate Rielly, but the NHL said he didn’t utter a slur.

“League officials interviewed several of the participants in the game — including Rielly and Meier — and reviewed audio of the alleged incident,” NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said in a statement. “All of those interviewed adamantly denied that Rielly uttered a slur and the audio supported their statements.

“The National Hockey League does not tolerate language or gestures that disparage anyone based upon their race, creed or sexual orientation and continues to work to ensure that our games are played in a welcoming atmosphere for all of our players, coaches, officials and fans.”9

The league didn’t say whether the slur had been used, just that it wasn’t uttered by Rielly. The 25-year-old joined Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas at a news conference Tuesday.

In the second period of their 6-2 loss to the Lightning, Rielly chased Lightning forward Yanni Gourde into the Toronto zone during a Tampa Bay penalty kill. Meier skated back with them. On the audio carried by Sportsnet in Canada, there is a clear anti-gay slur shouted by someone near ice level.

The Leafs issued a statement from Dubas after the investigation was announced: “The club is aware of the reports surrounding a homophobic slur used during the Maple Leafs versus Lightning game on Monday night. The issue of homophobia is one the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club strongly condemns and takes very seriously. We are in communication with the NHL and are cooperating fully with their office.”