The NHL has launched an investigation after a homophobic slur shouted at a referee was broadcast worldwide.
The incident occurred at a Toronto game between the Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning that was broadcast on Sportsnet. With 1:51 to play in the second period, someone near the ice can be heard shouting the phrase "fucking faggot," apparently at referee Brad Meier.
Users isolated a couple seconds of isolated video on a Streamable clip that as of 7 a.m. eastern on Tuesday morning after the game had more than 178,000 views.
Video suggests the offending comment came from a Leafs player, according toESPN.
"The NHL is aware of reports that a homophobic slur was used during the Maple Leafs-Lightning game," reads a statement from the NHL. "The League is investigating the incident and will have no further comment until this investigation is completed."
The slur was shouted as Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly chased a Lighting player down the ice during a penalty. The Leafs ultimately lost to the Lightning 6-2. Fans speculated on a Reddit thread that Reilly was the likely source of the slur.
Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas issued his own statement on the situation.
"The Club is aware of the reports surrounding a homophobic slur used during the Maple Leafs versus Lightning game on Monday night," he said. "The issue of homophobia is one the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club strongly condemns and takes very seriously. We are in communication with the NHL and are cooperating fully with their office."
The NHL has a mixed history of holding players accountable for homophobic language. Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf was fined $10,000 but not suspended after shouting slurs at a referee in 2017. A year earlier, Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw was fined $5,000 and suspended for one game during the playoffs in 2016 for similar actions.