Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
A brief history of Andrew Shaw being the worst
8 months ago
Andrew Shaw just couldn’t keep his mouth shut, huh?
The Chicago Blackhawks have had their fair share of ugly incidents over the last decade. The Brad Aldrich incident. Bill Peters using a racist slur towards Akim Aliu while he was coaching their AHL affiliate. Dave Bolland regurgitating the old “Sedin sisters” line in 2011.
Andrew Shaw’s infamous homophobic slur during the 2016 playoffs might not be the first one that comes to mind for people these days. But it has suddenly returned to the limelight again after Shaw’s recent appearance on the Raw Knuckles podcast hosted by former Canadiens enforcer Chris Nilan and Tim Stapleton.
During the hour-and-a-half-long episode published on May 18, Shaw spends a chunk of the back half blaming Kyle Beach for the situation video coach Aldrich put him in during the 2010 playoffs and taking issue with the NHL “politicizing” LGBTQ+ causes by having players participate in annual Pride Night games.
The 31-year-old forward had his career cut short in 2021 after sustaining multiple concussions throughout. In ten seasons split between the Blackhawks and the Montreal Canadiens, Shaw collected 247 points, 573 penalty minutes and two Stanley Cup rings with the Hawks in 2013 and 2015.
But he isn’t really known for his hockey skills anymore, and this week he practically guaranteed it would stay that way. So let’s take a look at how Shaw got here.
2016: The Foreshadowing
Shaw already had two Stanley Cup championships under his belt by the time this first incident took place.
In 2016, the defending champion Blackhawks entered the playoffs as the third seed in the Central, embroiled in a close first-round matchup against an archrival St. Louis Blues club. In Game 4 in Chicago, Shaw had a goal and a pair of assists, but those points quickly became a footnote.
With just over two minutes to go in a 4-3 Blues win, after earning an interference penalty, Shaw was caught on camera yelling a homophobic slur at the referees.
In a USA Today article at the time written by Kristen Shilton, all Shaw offered in the postgame presser was a lazy excuse:
“Emotions are high; I don’t know what’s said,” Shaw said after the loss. “I was obviously upset with the call, being late in the game. It doesn’t give us a chance to tie it up.”Pressed further about whether he used the slight, Shaw repeated, “I don’t know what I said,” but the damage was done, for him and the Blackhawks.
The NHL thought his defence was flimsy too, and suspended Shaw for Game 5, along with requiring him to undergo sensitivity training. In the aftermath, Shaw appeared remorseful of the incident.
“I am sincerely sorry for the insensitive remarks that I made last night while in the penalty box,” Shaw said the day after. “When I got home and saw the video, it was evident that what I did was wrong, no matter the circumstances. I apologize to many people, including the gay and lesbian community, the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Blackhawks fans and anyone else I may have offended. I know my words were hurtful and I will learn from my mistake.”
The Blackhawks would go on to lose the series in seven games, and Shaw was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens that offseason.
2017-22: Damage Control
In the years that followed, Shaw seemed to understand the impact the incident had made, and appeared to be making amends for it.
In 2016-17, Shaw volunteered to be the Montreal Canadiens’ first You Can Play ambassador, a role the NHL described as “being a leader in the locker room and in the community on diversity, equality, and inclusion. These players have agreed to lead the way in their markets and fight homophobia in sports.”
The rest of Shaw’s career played out without any repeat offences. And last year in an interview with The Athletic, Shaw expressed his gratefulness for the wakeup call and how it changed his mindset:
“As we all grow up and learn, you meet people and have friends and family in that community,” Shaw said. “They help you learn what they go through in their everyday life and you realize that words can hurt. And they cut deep. Since then, I’ve changed. I made sure I took it out of my vocabulary. Even when I get angry, it never comes to my mind because I know what it can do and how it can affect people.”
And that very well could’ve been the end of it. Until this week.
2023: True Colours
Then came the May 18 appearance on the Raw Knuckles podcast.
Late into the show’s proceedings, the conversation turned to the Blackhawks’ handling of the Brad Aldrich situation. Nilan started the conversation by expressing his disgust for Joel Quenneville being forced out of the NHL for his role in the cover up, conveniently ignoring the fact that Quenneville had wrote Aldrich a glowing job evaluation despite knowing about the incident.
Then the conversation shifted to the victim, Shaw’s former Rockford IceHogs teammate Kyle Beach.
“I lived with Kyle in Rockford. He was great to me, he helped me pay rent in my first two months, and he paid for my groceries for a couple weeks until I got a paycheck in me,” he said of Beach. “I have nothing bad to say about Kyle.”
He then went on to blame Beach for being caught up in the incident at all.
“Obviously it sucks, but as a 20 year old, I would probably never put myself in that situation that Kyle was in. I can say that, but obviously I don’t know what was going on with Kyle or anything going on in his head, but he put himself in a bad situation.”
As if that wasn’t enough, Shaw cemented his true colours later on when asked about the NHL’s various Pride Night holdouts this season. His response goes off the rails almost immediately, pointing the finger at an alleged LGBTQ+ agenda.
He then compared Pride games to a recent Bud Light social media ad with Dylan Mulvaney, a TikTok personality and transgender actress, that had somehow caused a controversy over a beer can.
“The NHL, Bud Light… you produce hockey, you produce beer. Stay in your lane.” Shaw says. “Why do you have to take a beer, who’s never put faces on it from any woman… or man… over the years, then suddenly come out of nowhere and put someone from the trans community on there?” (Bud Light had sent Mulvaney an exclusive case of beer that featured her picture on the cans, with no intention of selling them in stores.)
“I’m not against trans – pauses – …at all. But leave the kids out of it. That’s all I’m saying, is ‘leave the kids alone’.” (To reiterate, he was talking about a beer ad.)
While Shaw goes on to insist that the majority of NHL players wouldn’t care what a teammate’s orientation was, save for a few “bad apples”, his initial quotes let the cat completely out of the bag.
To put it bluntly, Shaw never learned to be an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. He simply learned how to pretend he is to preserve his own image. His actions were a clear window into who he was as a person, and he merely learned how to keep them hidden until he retired.
Shaw’s response about Beach also comes from the line of thinking that leads people to argue that sexual assault victims deserve part of the blame for being assaulted; that ‘being tougher’ would’ve stopped it from happening, despite the amount of psychological fear the perpetrator coerces them into.
To say that about any victim is bad. To say it about a teammate who took you in and cared for you as a rookie, is massively heinous and displayed a complete lack of empathy.
If we ever hear from Andrew Shaw again, it’ll be far too soon.
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