(USA TODAY) - Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward said the racial slurs directed at him on Twitter after he scored the series-winning overtime goal to eliminate the Boston Bruins were "shocking to see, but it didn't ruin my day."
"It doesn't faze me at all," Ward told USA TODAY Sports. "We won, and we are moving on. ... People are going to say what they want to say."
He said he didn't know about the issue until Washington teammate Jeff Halpern brought it to his attention on the team plane heading home from Boston. Ward said Halpern "apologized" that Ward had to see that.
"Halpern just took offense that people weren't talking about the goal, (but rather) getting into racist remarks," Ward said. "I think he was telling me had my back, and felt bad that (some Twitter users) were talking about the negative side, instead of how we are moving on."
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Ward, 31, a four-year NHL veteran, says he never has before experienced any racist remarks directed toward him at the NHL level.
"Growng up, at a few minor tournaments, you catch a few kids saying things," Ward said. "But at that age, I didn't even know what the terminology meant. But (at this level) I've never heard anything. I know other guys have, I believe, but I've had nothing directed to me like that."
Ward's goal at 2:57 of overtime knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champions and put the Capitals into the second round against a still-undetermined opponent. Ward had six goals in 73 games this season. "It was definitely the biggest goal I've ever been a part of," he said.
Ward said he hasn't had time to comb through all of the comments on his own personal Twitter account, but he has seen a summary of the racist-tone posts on various website blogs.
"I think it is just kids," Ward said. "It has no effect on me whatsoever. I've been playing this game long enough and I've not had any encounters of that nature."
He said he has always felt comfortable in an NHL dressing room and on the ice.
"There is no lying about it. ...I'm definitely the one black guy in a room with 20 white guys," Ward said. "There are definitely some cultural differences, such as taste in music, but I've neard heard anything derogatory."
He says he has no concern about his safety moving forward in the playoffs.
"I'm pretty laid-back and I get along with a lot of people," Ward said. "I don't fear anything like that, and I have a good group of guys to protect me."
Ward said his goal today is to go on his Twitter account and thank the people who came to his defense through social media. Many have gone after those who posted racist remarks. Some who have made racist comments have already closed their accounts. One person apologized.
"I'm definitely getting a lot of support," Ward said. "There have been a lot of Boston fans who have supported me, which is very cool to see. No hard feelings from me. This is a game."