Noted Rangers troublemaker Sean Avery claims that Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds called him a homophobic slur during last night's preseason game between the two heated rivals.
Avery confirmed to the New York Post that Simmonds used a homophobic slur after the two got into a scrum and Avery punched Simmonds in the face.
It's been said [to me] for years, but it's different now, Avery told the New York Post. It certainly is an issue politically, for people in the game and in life in general, and it's an issue people are working to overcome.
Avery has publicly supported the LGBT community in the past and was a prominent supporter of the Human Right Campaign's New Yorkers for Marriage Equality. He's even publicly said that he would defend any NHL player that publicly came out.
Simmonds didn't deny that he used a slur against Avery, but claimed that he couldn't remember the exact words that were exchanged. He went on to claim that Avery wasn't innocent and used some choice words of his own, but wouldn't elaborate.
Honestly, we were going back and forth for a while there, Simmonds told reporters after the game. I don't recall everything that I did say to him but he said to me some things I didn't like and maybe I said some things that he didn't like. I can't recall every single word I said.
Simmonds was recently the subject of a racially driven incident in Ontario when a fan threw a banana at him during the game. Simmonds, one of the few black players in the NHL, handled the situation as best as he could after the game.
When you're a black man playing in a predominantly white man's sport, you've got to come to expect things like that, Simmonds told reporters after the incident on Sept. 22. Over the past 23 years of my life, I've come to expect some things like that. But I'm older and more mature now, I kind of just left things roll off [my back]. I try not to think about stuff like that.
Simmonds wouldn't say whether Avery's comments were in any way related to the incident.