On Friday, the New York Rangers hosted a zoom chat for the first 500 people who could get on Zoom with newly signed defenseman K’Andre Miller. The chat turned ugly when a person decided to use a racial slur repeatedly toward Miller. The twenty-year-old was selected with the 22nd pick of the 2018 NHL Draft and many expect him to make it to the Rangers shortly. An excellent skater, Miller has featured for the United States at the past two World Junior Championships and just finished his junior season at the University of Wisconsin.
The New York Rangers were slow to react to the racial slurs
A Zoom user used the chat function to repeatedly direct a racial slur targeted at Miller. It is not clear whether it was one of the 500 people who participated or was someone who hacked their way into the chat. Zoom has had issues with security over the past few weeks as video chatting has become more popular during the COVID-19 outbreak. Hackers gain access to a Zoom meeting and attempt to disrupt the video chat and upset participants by shouting profanity or racial slurs or putting offensive images in the video feed. Zoom hacking issues like this are happening all over the world, from over-the-Internet Alcoholics Anonymous meetings to sensitive, high-level government gatherings.
Regardless of the Zoom issue, the New York Rangers created the event. Their reaction to this situation was a bit timid and slow. It took them more than three hours after the incident to post this statement:
“We held an online video chat with fans, and New York Rangers prospect, K’Andre Miller, during which a vile individual hijacked the chat to post racial slurs, which we disabled as soon as possible. We were incredibly appalled by the behavior, which has no place online, on the ice, or anywhere, and we are investigating the matter.”
Shortly after, the NHL posted this statement:
“The National Hockey League is appalled that a video call arranged today by the New York Rangers to introduce their fans to one of the League’s rising stars, K’Andre Miller, was hacked with racist, cowardly taunts. The person who committed this despicable act is in no way an NHL fan and is not welcome in the hockey community. No one needs to be subjected to such ugly treatment and it will not be tolerated in our league. We join the New York Rangers in condemning this disgusting behavior.”
You can see a video of the incident on our Fireside Rangers twitter feed.
This just one of the incidents where the league needs to take a firmer stance to protect its players from this type of situation, even if the fault remains with the Zoom website. Racism has no place in hockey or anywhere, and this incident should expect a diligent response from the New York Rangers, the NHL, and any law enforcement division that this applies to.