WHEELING - It's still too early to determine the full extent of the punishment Wheeling forward Keven Veilleux will feel from the ECHL for directing a racial slur toward South Carolina's Scooter Vaughan during the Nailers' 5-0 victory Sunday at WesBanco Arena. A second-round pick (51st overall) of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2007, Veilleux has been suspended indefinitely by the Wheeling membership, pending a full investigation by the league.
The ECHL said Monday it will have no comment until the matter is resolved because it first wants to speak to Veilleux. The parent club, however, is on board with whatever sentence is handed down.
''The Penguins concur with the Nailers' decision to suspend Keven indefinitely at this time,'' Pittsburgh said in a statement. ''We have talked to Keven and told him that such behavior is unacceptable.
''We will continue to work with the ECHL and the Nailers organization on this matter.''
Vaughan, who is African American, and Veilleux, a French Canadian, were involved in a pair of fights during the third period Sunday. The slur was directed in Vaughan's direction while the two were in the penalty box for the initial altercation.
''He didn't have to fight growing up and in juniors because he was so good,'' Wheeling Nailers alternate governor Tim Roberts said Monday. ''Now in the pros he has to fight just to make it. He's not doing it as his job, he's doing it out of anger.
''He feels terrible.''
Though he doesn't condone Veilleux's actions, Roberts said he got a sense the 23-year-old St-Georges-de-Beauce, PQ, native, and believes he deserves one second chance, including with the Nailers.
''In my opinion, the apology and remorse and the tears, I don't think'' he has played his last game in Wheeling, Roberts said. ''If I didn't see true remorse and tears in his eyes, I would have had a tough time bringing him back.
''In the heat of the moment, he lost it.''
Roberts also said the situation ''has to'' be addressed with the team, and that sensitivity training is needed.
''It's not the type of organization we are, and it's not what we stand for,'' Roberts said.
The Nailers wanted to get out in front of the fire, in large part because Roberts was involved in a similar situation 20 years ago while playing college hockey at R.P.I. He said in that instance the school tried to cover the situation up and the entire administration ended up being fired.
''Sweeping it under the rug is not the right thing to do,'' Roberts said.
Roberts said he spoke with Vaughan, who played 20 games with Wheeling last year and was with the team during training camp. Vaughan said ''It's not the first time and it won't be the last, but it was the worst,'' according to Roberts.
Veilleux is expected to offer a statement in the near future.