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Canadian ice hockey star responds to racist and Islamophobic abuse after win

Nazem Kadri said the 'hurtful' attacks against his family needed to stop
A St Louis Blues fan can be seen sticking out his middle finger at Nazem Kadri at a game between the Blues and Colorado Avalanche (AFP)

Canadian ice hockey star Nazem Kadri has received death threats and Islamophobic abuse on social media following an accidental collision with another player in the second round playoffs of the Stanley Cup.

Kadri, who plays for Colorado Avalanche, received a deluge of abuse on Saturday after he was involved in a collision in Game Three which led to the injury of St Louis Blues starting goalkeeper Jordan Binnington.

Following the collision, for which he was not penalised, Kadri received a flood of abuse on social media which his wife shared on her Instagram page following Game Four, on Monday.

"Great game tonight, very proud of Nazem. But I want to shine light on what the last 48 hours has looked like for us as a family," Kadri's wife wrote on top of screengrabs of messages from apparent Blues fans. The messages included death threats and derogatory comments about Kadri's Muslim faith.

"This behavior doesn't belong in sports, or anywhere. If you are not condemning racism, then you are tolerating it," she wrote.

Kadri was booed every time he touched the puck in Game Four at St. Louis, where there was a heightened police presence due to the situation.

The NHL told the Associated Press news agency that it was working with the St Louis Police Department to implement enhanced security measures at the arena and in the team hotel.

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"For those who hate, that was for them," Kadri said after Game Four - which saw him score a hat trick in a 6-3 win. That victory put Avalanche just one win away from the Western Conference finals. Game Five is scheduled for later on Wednesday.

"I know what was said isn’t a reflection on every single fan in St Louis. I understand that, and I want to make that clear," Kadri said in a post-game press conference. "But for those that wasted their time sending messages like that, I feel sorry for them.

"People need to be aware that this stuff still happens and it's hurtful. It's hurtful," he said. "At the end of the day I'm a good hockey player and I just try to provide for my team and try to put all of that aside. I just worry about some people that maybe aren't as mentally tough as I am and have to go through that scrutiny and that criticism. So I want to do the best I can to help."

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was full of praise for Kadri, calling him "a big boy, a tough guy, and a resilient guy".

"We're proud of him as a group and we have a task that we're trying to complete, and Naz understands that - and it's unfortunate he has to deal with it and he knows that we're all with him and that’s what we care about."

Muslim communities across Canada are facing a rising wave of anti-Islam sentiment, with a spate of break-ins and vandalism targeting mosques across the country.

Four members of a Muslim family were killed in a "premeditated" attack in July, when Nathaniel Veltman mounted the curb and ploughed his truck into the Afzaal family.

In 2020, a report submitted to the UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief showed that more than half of Canadians believed Muslims could not be trusted, while 47 percent supported banning headscarves in public - compared with 30 percent of Americans - and 51 percent supported government surveillance of mosques, compared with 46 percent of Americans.

The study also found that 46 percent of Canadians believed the discrimination faced by Muslims was their own fault.

Muslims number slightly more than 1 million, or 3.2 percent of Canada's population, according to the country's last census, more than double any other visible minority.