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“It was a stupid and mindless act by a single individual,” he said in a statement. “However, it reflects badly on our entire community. London is a diverse and welcoming city and we like it that way.”

Hockey has faced racial problems in the past. The NHL includes players of many different nationalities, but Simmonds is one of only a handful of blacks.

Kevin Weekes, a former NHL goaltender and current CBC color commentator who is black, had a banana thrown at him during the 2002 playoffs in Montreal while he played for Carolina.

“We have some people that still have their heads in the sand and some people that don’t necessarily want to evolve and aren’t necessarily all that comfortable with the fact that the game is evolving,” Weekes said. “I understand that firsthand _ I’m the first black national broadcaster in NHL history, the first black broadcaster on ‘Hockey Night in Canada.’

“The reality is that there’s still some people that aren’t very comfortable with that. Sometimes I’ll get examples of it on Twitter.”

Peter Luukko, president and chief operating officer of Comcast-Spectacor, said it’s unfortunate the offending spectator wasn’t identified. He hopes the incident won’t stain hockey’s reputation going forward.

“Hockey is very diverse, in its ethnicity as well as its cultural background. At the end of the day, this doesn’t affect anything. It’s just one idiot,” Luukko said. “It’s just unfortunate, and we’re going to put it behind us.”

Eustace King of 02 Sports Agency, who represents Simmonds, told The Canadian Press he believes the NHL should draft a code of conduct for fans that could be printed on the back of tickets.

“The game doesn’t necessarily have very many racial problems _ I don’t want to say there are none, but it’s very limited,” he said. “But I think the challenges become with people in society, there’s a great problem that’s out there that is still being addressed. Just because we’re playing sports doesn’t mean it’s going to change.”

King, who is black, once played NCAA hockey. He also represents black players Chris Stewart and Anthony Stewart. King said this is a distraction Simmonds doesn’t need right now.

“He’s in the middle of training camp, he was traded to a new team and all he’s trying to do is showcase his ability for his new management,” King said. “This is just another thing that I will say other players don’t necessarily have to think about. When Wayne goes on the ice, he’s got this in the back of his head, that he’s got to go out and perform but he’s going to be questioned about something that has nothing to do with him.”

Norton Sports, a California sports management group that does not manage Simmonds, offered a $500 reward for the identity of the banana thrower. The Twitter offer quickly drew others promising to add to the reward. As of Friday morning, Simmonds was a trending topic on the social network.

San Jose Sharks forward Logan Couture, who grew up near London, posted: “Wayne Simmonds is a good friend of mine. To hear what happened tonight to him in my hometown is awful. No need for this in sports, or life.”