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Flyers’ Gratton Denies Racial Slur

November 13, 1998

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Philadelphia Flyers player Chris Gratton spoke Friday about allegations that he had made a racial slur to black Florida Panthers player Peter Worrell during Thursday night’s game.

``Under no circumstances did I say anything like that,″ Gratton said Friday after a practice session.

When the two players were in a scuffle behind the net Gratton said something. Several reporters watching video of the event said it looked like Gratton called Worrell an ``ape.″

``I would never, ever say that, disrespect Peter like that,″ Gratton said.

When asked about the incident after the game, Worrell said, ``If he said something, I didn’t hear it.″

Gratton said it is frustrating to deal with the allegation.

``I don’t know who started this, but it’s unbelievable,″ Gratton said. ``I’d apologize, but I never said it.″

Worrell, one of the few black players in the NHL, has dealt with racism throughout his career.

As a minor-league player, he had a banana peel thrown at him. Someone once used another racial slur at him over a hockey arena’s public-address system.

Last season, Craig Berube of the Washington Capitals used another slur against Worrell. The NHL suspended Berube for a game.

That happened within days of yet another slur used by Chris Simon against black Edmonton player Mike Grier. Simon apologized; he was suspended for three games.

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