steve simmons wayne simmonds

Maple Leafs' Wayne Simmonds eviscerates Toronto Sun reporter as 'asinine'

Toronto Sun reporter Steve Simmons is under fire for comments made in a column over the weekend about systemic racism in the NHL, with current and former players, including Toronto Maple Leafs' winger Wayne Simmonds, speaking out.

Though their last names are quite similar, Simmons and Simmonds are at odds over comments the former made about Akim Aliu, a former player and whistleblower drawing attention to racial barriers and mistreatment in the league.

In his much-talked-about column, Simmons — who is white — attempts to refute the claims of abuse by Aliu — who is Black — stating that "Aliu played for 23 teams in nine different leagues in 12 professional seasons and rarely finished any season with the same team he started with. If that was colour-related, how is it that Wayne Simmonds spent just about the same 12 seasons playing in the NHL?"

Leafs forward Wayne Simmonds did not take too kindly to the namedrop, and reacted with a thread on Twitter calling out the reporter's take as "asinine" for using his name as an example.

In a war of words between a right wing-playing forward versus a right-wing spewing columnist, Simmonds accuses Simmons of minimizing the pain and suffering that racialized players go through on the daily.

Akim Aliu has also spoken out in condemnation of the column, releasing a video on social media explaining to his followers that "this one got me good. This one got me at my core."

"People like Steve are what's wrong with society. This is the first time in history that the crucial conversation of race is prevalent in hockey," says Aliu.

"You have absolutely no clue, Steve, what I and my family have been through both physically and emotionally since I started playing hockey and the scars it has left. When I showed this to my dad, he literally broke out in tears."

Aliu's fellow Hockey Diversity Alliance member and former Leafs forward Nazem Kadri joined in the conversation during a media availability. The current Calgary Flames player called Simmons "an absolute clown" and criticized his writing as "dated."

Simmons' controversial take was published on Oct. 9, and despite the backlash, remains viewable on the Toronto Sun's website as of the morning of Oct. 11.

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