LONDON, Ontario – A banana was thrown from the crowd at Philadelphia Flyers winger Wayne Simmonds in an apparent racist gesture during an exhibition game against the Detroit Red Wings being played in Canada, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Friday.
Simmonds, one of the NHL's few black players, was targeted as he took a shot during a shootout at Labatt Centre in London, Ontario, on Thursday night. The fan who threw the fruit was not identified, officials later confirmed.
"I've never had a banana thrown at me before. That's a first for me," Simmonds, 23, said. "I guess it's something I obviously have to deal with, being a black player playing a predominantly white sport."
The projectile failed to prevent him from beating Red Wings goaltender Jordan Pearce.
"At first, I thought 'I better get another shot if I miss,'" Simmonds said. "But I did score, so that was good." The Flyers ultimately lost the shootout 4-3.
Simmonds, who joined the Flyers from the Los Angeles Kings in the summer, attempted to draw a line under the banana incident.
"I've grown a lot playing in this league and throughout my whole life," he said. "I'm not going to dwell on that. It's over with now."