This is an incredible embarrassment for what is largely viewed as one of the National Hockey League's most respected franchises, and arguably the most storied franchise in the league's history.
A promotion to celebrate one million followers on twitter went horribly wrong for the Canadiens last night, and today they were forced to apologize for the vile racial slurs that were sent out by their twitter account after some people quickly realized the Canadiens had taken no steps to make sure the contest would not be abused.
The result was the Canadiens retweeting recently created account names that contained highly offensive language, and in some cases outrageously racist and horrific slogans, which the promotion promptly put on the back of Habs jersey's and tweeted out from the Canadiens official twitter.
While the Canadiens did apologize in the following official statement, you will notice they also attempted to shift a large part of the blame.
In an effort to thank our fans for helping us hit the one million follower mark on Twitter, we collaborated with Twitter Canada to create a campaign that would send individual messages to fans to show our appreciation. Followers who tweeted us using the #CanadiensMTL1M hashtag were sent direct responses from our account, which included pre-recorded messages from players, personalized avatars that incorporated users’ Twitter handles, or Club 1909 codes that could be redeemed for a chance to win prizes ranging from Club 1909 points and Canadiens jerseys to tickets to an upcoming home game.
We executed the campaign using a third-party provider, Flowics, as suggested to us by Twitter Canada. The company has had previous success running similar campaigns for Soccer Canada, US Soccer and Hockey Canada. Unfortunately, due to human error on the part of the third-party provider, the profanity filter was not activated when setting up the campaign and a handful of offensive and inappropriate Twitter handles and tweets were not flagged and properly blocked. Once the error was discovered, the campaign was immediately suspended and the offensive tweets were manually deleted. Flowics has issued a statement on their Web site apologizing for the error, stating it was the first time it had ever made such an oversight for a client.
Some of them are so bad we can't even show them here, but we have included one example of a particularly vile tweet from the Canadiens to demostrate just how bad it got last night.
Update: We have removed the original example we published after receving several reasonable requests to do so, instead we have included some of the more mild examples, and yes we mean mild by comparison.