WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - The Washington Capitals are showing their love and support for a budding hockey star from Maryland and his teammates, after he was bullied by an opposing team for his race.
Divyne Apollon II, who plays for the Maryland-based Metro Maple Leafs youth hockey team, faced racial taunts during a game against a team from Pennsylvania earlier in the month.
At the end of the game, the comments were so terrible, that Divyne's teammates lashed back at them in his defense, and eventually a fight broke out.
The Washington Post reports Divyne was suspended from the rest of the tournament for fighting, but then told the adults what the other team had been saying.
His teammates backed him up, telling the parents and team manager what happened. They were shocked to hear the things the other team had said.
One of the moms from the team designed a badge crossing out the word “Racism” with the slash mark as a hockey stick, printing them as stickers for players and parents to wear.
Washington Caps players John Carlson and Devante Smith-Pelly heard about Divyne and his team and set out to make their negative experience into a positive one.
Carlson and Smith-Pelly decided to invite the entire team to the St. Louis Blues game on Jan. 14, and have a meet and greet after the game.
"It's terrible first off, I think you feel for Divyne and what he has to go through and as a hockey player I think we all stand up for each other," Carlson said.
"I just think it's a good thing to do to show him we're all with him."
The pair recorded a video message inviting the team to the game. The Metro Maple Leafs coach showed the team the message on Tuesday night.
During the 2018-2019 season, there are about 30 athletes in the NHL who are of color, including the Caps' Devante Smith-Pelly.
Smith-Pelly, a native of Ontario, recalls facing the same hate growing up.
"For me to meet him and look him in the face as someone who's gone through it and can talk to him and share my experience is important to me," he said. "It's a pretty gross thing to be happening."
Smith Pelly says Divyne should "keep playing and keep standing up for yourself."