Friday, August 19, 2005

Los Angeles Kings Sued For Hate Crime

LOS ANGELES - August 16: A former Japanese national hockey team member is suing the Los Angeles Kings, claiming he has been the victim of a hate crime.

Yutaka Fuji played with the Japan's national ice hockey team three times. He is pictured here displaying the his Los Angeles Kings jersey left in his locker, with a "modification" of his last name, during a news conference in Tokyo Thursday, Aug. 18, 2005.

The 22-year old Tokyo-born goalie reported to the Japanese media that he and the Kings of the National Hockey League agreed to a two-year entry level contract earlier this month.

"I mean, really, it's not even that funny - fuk-u-fuji? Seriously..." commented Fuji at the press conference. "What kind of message does this send to the millions of Japanese youth hockey players who dream of being 3rd tier NHL players? It's saddest for them."

Six-foot-1 and 170 pounds Fuji was selected by the Kings 238th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

To compensate him for this humiliation, Fuji is claiming unspecified damages for and a mandatory contract extension in the case.

"It's damn embarassing," said Don Pinker, a Kings representative. "We thought is was his name...who can tell with these guys!?"

The case is expected to go to trial in October.

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