ONTARIO, Calif. – On Monday, January 20, Bakersfield defenseman Brandon Manning and Ontario forward Bokondji (Boko) Imama got into an altercation during the second period of the Condors at Reign matchup. Looking at the stat sheet, it seems like standard fare for a division rivalry game: a roughing penalty for each player, with Manning being assessed a ten-minute major penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Even upon viewing the video clip, it doesn’t seem like anything major occurred for Manning to earn a game misconduct.
However, on Tuesday, the AHL handed down a five-game suspension to Manning for “use of a racial slur towards an opponent”. After the suspension was announced, Manning issued a statement through the Condors’ digital communication channels.
“Last night I made comments to an opposing player that were stupid and offensive. After the game I spoke with the opposing player in person, which I’m very grateful for. He allowed me to apologize and I took full responsibility for what I said.
“To say I’ve learned from this situation is an understatement and I promise to be better.”
Minutes later, Bakersfield posted another statement, this time from Condors General Manager / Edmonton Oilers Assistant GM Keith Gretzky.
“We are aware of an unacceptable comment directed toward an Ontario Reign player by Bakersfield Condors defencemen Brandon Manning during last night’s game. This is a very serious matter, we are disappointed by Brandon’s comment and we fully support the American Hockey League’s decision. The Oilers and Condors organizations wholeheartedly believe in a respectful workplace and will work to better educate our players on appropriate conduct on and off the ice.”
On Wednesday, Imama released a statement of his own, putting a firm stance and universal outlook on a very difficult situation.
“I have taken some time to reflect on what transpired on the ice against Bakersfield Monday night. What happened is unfortunate for everyone. No matter how intense or heated a game gets, there is no room for this in our game and no excuse. I am very proud to be an African Canadian hockey player and to stand for all other players that are in the same situation as me.
“I would like to thank the Los Angeles Kings and Ontario Reign, Edmonton Oilers and Bakersfield Condors for their professionalism in helping me handle this situation. Last but not least, I cannot thank my family and friends for their continued love and support.
“At this time, I will not make any further statements or comments and I would very much appreciate if those wishes were respected.”
Manning has already missed one game of his five-game punishment: Wednesday night’s shutout victory against San Jose. He will also miss Bakersfield’s two-game road set against Tucson (Jan. 24 & 25), home game against Ontario (Jan. 31), and away game against Stockton (Feb. 1).
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