Lately, everything has been coming up women’s hockey.
Team USA won gold at the Winter Olympics -- against Canada, no less -- and smashed viewing records in the process.
The honeymoon glow hasn’t vanished yet. Recently, the National Women’s Hockey League announced it would be expanding its depth chart to include a fifth team: the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Whitecaps, which has been proudly slapping pucks since 2004.
All is right in the women's hockey-verse, if you aren’t looking at Twitter.
As reported in the Guardian, the NWHL has been taking flack from its fans on social media thanks to some of the things Whitecaps forward Lauren Barnes, a Minnesota State-Mankato grad from Burnsville, has been liking on Twitter.
For example: this tweet from conservative political commentator Tomi Lahren, who had some thoughts on Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick won’t be happy till he stokes an all-out War on Cops. Disgusting. https://t.co/H4sD4TztJv— Tomi Lahren (@TomiLahren) April 24, 2018
Then there was this gem, from conservative painter Jon McNaughton, whose gallery includes a portrait of President Donald Trump literally teaching a man to fish:
I've had enough of Jesus Christ being kicked out of everything, replaced by LGBTQ and Islamic propaganda. When push comes to shove, American Christians will stand for their rights. https://t.co/lrt1pNWMsQ pic.twitter.com/uvlGXwyPiO— Jon McNaughton (@McNaughtonArt) July 29, 2018
And of course, a tweet from Trump himself made an appearance:
Our Southern Border is under siege. Congress must act now to change our weak and ineffective immigration laws. Must build a Wall. Mexico, which has a massive crime problem, is doing little to help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2018
Barnes has since deleted her Twitter account, but the screenshots aren’t going away, and fans have been asking for some kind of a response -- an apology, at least -- from the Whitecaps and the League. Instead, many critical comments have been deleted, and some users have been blocked.
...so y'all really are just gonna try and pretend you didn't sign an incredibly bigoted person and then block fans who voiced their concerns? We haven't forgotten. #BigotWhitecaps https://t.co/0KqQgE6RAL— Alice, no longer a NWHL fan (@yolowoho) September 3, 2018
this kind of nonsense is why we're a lynx fan blog now #bigotwhitecaps— Watch This (@WatchThisHockey) August 23, 2018
You claim to be inclusive of all races, genders and sexualities, but you sign players who are openly bigots, racists, and homophobes (and it's easy to find proof online), so what is the truth here? #BigotWhitecaps #bigotbospride @NWHL @WhitecapsHockey @TheBostonPride— abby (@dunbaerrito) September 5, 2018
Neither the NWHL nor Barnes have released statements on the issue.
On the surface, it’s one more athlete caught in a social media garbage fire.
Deeper down, it’s also a battle for the soul of women's hockey. Eventually, the NWHL will have to reckon with the fact that while the sport is overwhelmingly affluent and white, its fans are more diverse, and demand better from their players. For now, it’s passing the puck.