Imama and Hrabik release statements in response to racial gesture incident

(David Becker/AP)

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The American Hockey League has suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik 30 games for making a "racial gesture" at Tucson Roadrunners left-wing Boko Imama during a game last week.

The league said in a release that Hrabik made the gesture at Imama, who is Black, during Tucson’s 4-3 win over San Jose on Jan. 12.

Inama released a statement on Twitter voicing his frustration that he still has to deal with incidents like this in professional hockey.

Hrabik, who has already served three games of the suspension, would be eligible to return April 3.

In a statement, Hrabik offered an apology to Imama while accepting responsibility for his actions and “will do everything in my power to atone.”

“I am ashamed of today’s events and embarrassed by the actions that led to my suspension. I want everyone to know that I’m very sorry for what has occurred and I take full responsibility for my actions.

 

People should know that I had absolutely no inappropriate intent. 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. I alone am responsible for that, it was terrible, and I make no excuses. When I heard about Boko’s reaction to the gesture, I was horrified by what I had done.

 

Boko is a player I respect and I am so sorry for putting him through this situation. I sent a personal apology to Boko and sincerely hope that he will forgive me. I also want to apologize to the American Hockey League, the San Jose Barracuda, the Tucson Roadrunners, and to my teammates for my unacceptable actions.

 

I fully accept the consequences of my actions and am not appealing the discipline imposed by the AHL.

 

I will be working with Anson Carter, Kim Davis, and the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee to participate in education and training on racism and inclusion. I know I will be judged by my future conduct. If given the opportunity, I will do everything in my power to atone for my actions and lead by example.”

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Imama did not see the gesture but some of his teammates did and reported it to the league.

The AHL said in a statement that Hrabik may apply for reinstatement after March 12, based on an evaluation of his progress in the education and training on racism and inclusion administered by the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee.

Imama, born in Montreal to parents who immigrated from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been subjected to racist behaviour in the AHL before. Bakersfield Condors defenceman Brandon Manning using a racial slur in an altercation with Imama during a Jan. 22, 2020 game, when Imama was with the Ontario Reign.

Manning was suspended five games for uttering the slur.

"The AHL stands with Boko Imama," AHL commissioner Scott 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."

Comments are turned off for this story.