AHL’s Krystof Hrabik gets 30-game ban for making racist gesture at another player

Jan. 21 (UPI) — The American Hockey League on Friday gave San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik a 30-game suspension for directing a racist gesture toward Tucson Roadrunners player Boko Imama during a Jan. 12 game.

ESPN reported that Hrabik imitated the movements of a monkey as part of a taunt that targeted Imama, who is Black. The Roadrunners’ bench noticed the taunt, and Tucson’s Travis Barron confronted Hrabik on the ice while Imama was restrained by an official during a stoppage in play.

The AHL was made aware of the incident Jan. 13 and opened an investigation, during which Hrabik was barred from all team activities.

Hrabik’s 30-game ban includes the three games that he missed during the investigation.

“The AHL stands with Boko Imama,” AHL President and CEO 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.”

The 22-year-old Hrabik will have a chance to take part in education and training on racism and inclusion. He will be eligible to apply to the AHL for reinstatement after missing 21 games, and a decision on that appeal will be based on “an evaluation of his progress in the necessary education and training” with the NHL’s Player Inclusion Committee.

The Barracuda and their NHL parent club, the San Jose Sharks, apologized to Imama and the hockey community in a joint statement issued Friday.

“While we support the ability for individuals to atone and learn from disrespectful incidents in this context, these actions are in direct opposition to the Barracuda and Sharks organizations’ values,” the statement said.

This is the second time that an AHL player has been suspended for a racial taunt aimed at Imama. In January 2020, Bakersfield Condors defenseman Brandon Manning was banned five games for using a racial slur at Imama.

The Tampa Bay Lightning drafted the 25-year-old Imama with the 180th overall pick in the 2015 draft. The winger spent four years within the Los Angeles Kings’ organization before joining the Arizona Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, the Roadrunners, last summer.

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