Capitals Unite Around Youth Hockey Team to Help Combat Racism

January 15, 2019
Capitals unite with youth hockey team to combat racism

Divyne Apollon II (Photo courtesy of the Washington Capitals)


The Washington Capitals turned a negative into a positive Monday evening, and it had nothing to do with their performance on the ice.

On a personal invite by John Carlson and Devante Smith-Pelly, 13-year-old Divyne Apollon II and his Metro Maple Leafs teammates walked into the Caps' locker room to meet their hockey heroes, weeks after Apollon had been the target of racist taunts during a youth hockey tournament.

Smith-Pelly, having been through this himself, felt compelled to reach out with words of encouragement. In a game in Chicago last season, Smith-Pelly was subjected to racist taunts as he sat in the penalty box.

"I think the main message I try and pass on in this situation," Smith-Pelly said last week. "For every – be careful with my words – one dummy out there that's being ignorant, there's a bunch of people that don't feel that way, and care about you and have your back."

PHOTOS: Metro Maple Leafs Meet The Caps

Smith-Pelly felt even more compelled after hearing Apollon's 14-and-under teammates had his back. When the taunts were brought to their attention, they dropped their gloves and started a brawl with their opponents, who had been directing monkey sounds at their teammate.

"When that happened to me, when I was in the dressing room kind of upset about it, my team had my back," Smith-Pelly said. "And the same thing went for Divyne. They went out there and fought for him. He can go into that room and see, you know, these guys have my back and not everyone thinks that way."

After watching the Caps get downed by the Blues – with complimentary tickets provided by the team – the Metro Maple Leafs were escorted under Capital One Arena, a trip they may never get to experience again in their lifetimes, to meet the players on the ice.

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