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A Police Escort to a Playoff Game Draws Attention to Racism in Junior Hockey

A Police Escort to a Playoff Game Draws Attention to Racism in Junior Hockey

“His goal is to play in the N.H.L.,” he said.

Daniele has known his client since Smith was 11.

“It’s something he’s had to live with as part of being a black athlete,” said Daniele, who also represents Smith’s brother, Gemel, a Dallas Stars forward. “The Smiths are a quiet, reserved family. They would rather not deal with it and move on.”

Daniele released a statement on behalf of Smith’s family, saying: “At this time, Givani respectfully asks for privacy, as he and his family wish to move on from the incident. His focus is now on being a Detroit Red Wing.”

Smith was a second-round draft pick by Detroit in 2016. Acquired by Kitchener midway through this season, Smith was a key playoff performer, scoring 11 goals and contributing seven assists in 18 games.

“Obviously, it’s disgusting that people do that to another human being,” Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said. “We support Givani. He’s a tremendous young man. We think he’s a really good prospect for us. He had a tremendous playoff. It’s about what you do on the ice. He’s a committed athlete, and we’re thrilled to have him in our organization. We’ve talked to him since the incident and made sure he understands we’re there to support him.”

Shawn Horcoff, the Red Wings’ director of player development, had contacted Smith after his obscene gesture to talk to him about controlling his emotions better on the ice. When Horcoff learned a couple of days later about the threats and the racial slurs that Smith had been subjected to, Horcoff called him again.

He said he told Smith he wished he had known more about what he was dealing with. Horcoff said Smith told him: “Listen, I didn’t want to make it a bigger deal than it was. I didn’t want more distractions for my teammates.”

Branch said this was the first time since he became commissioner in 1979 that a player needed a police escort to a game.

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