AHL player suspended 30 games for racist gesture

Minas Panagiotakis / Getty Images Sport / Getty

San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik has been suspended 30 games for directing a racist gesture toward Tucson Roadrunners winger Boko Imama, who is Black.

Hrabik committed the act during a game on Jan. 12 and has already sat out for three contests.

The 22-year-old center will take part in education and training with the NHL's Player Inclusion Committee. He can apply to have the suspension reduced after March 12, and that ruling would be made based on his progress with the committee.

"I've been dealing with situations like this my entire life. ... It's frustrating and disheartening that this is still going on in 2022!" Imama posted in a statement later Friday. "Even though I honestly believe the sport has made positive strides, we still have a long way to go to educate the ignorant and to make hockey a safe place for everyone."

Hrabik said he reached out to Imama to personally apologize.

"The gesture was made in the heat of battle and while I didn't mean anything racist by what I did, I realize now through my own ignorance how my gesture could be interpreted," he said in a statement. "I alone am responsible for that, it was terrible, and I make no excuses."

AHL president and CEO Scott Howson earlier denounced Hrabik's actions.

"The AHL stands with Boko Imama," Howson said in a statement. “It is unfair that any player should be subjected to comments or gestures based on their race; they should be judged only on their ability to perform as a player on the ice, as a teammate in the locker room, and as a member of their community.”

The Barracuda and the San Jose Sharks, who share an affiliation, said in a joint statement that they were "appalled to learn of this incident." The two clubs also extended their "sincerest apologies" to Imama, the Roadrunners, the AHL, their fans, and the hockey community as a whole.

The Roadrunners are the Arizona Coyotes' AHL affiliate. Coyotes president and CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez voiced the organization's support of Imama.

"There is no place in society, or in our game, for racism or abuse of any kind. The player's ignorance is astounding and unacceptable," he wrote in a statement. "Diversity and inclusion are core pillars of our organization and we stand by Boko and support him fully."

This is the second time a player has been disciplined for an act of racism toward Imama in his career. Brandon Manning, then a defenseman for the Bakersfield Condors, was suspended five games exactly two years ago Friday for directing a racial slur toward Imama, who was with the Ontario Reign.

The Tampa Bay Lightning selected Imama in the sixth round of the 2015 draft. He's since played in the Los Angeles Kings and Coyotes organizations.

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AHL player suspended 30 games for racist gesture
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