ESPN’s Jon Anderson apologizes for Golden Knights DE Zach Whitecloud name joke: ‘I blew it’

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When Las Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zack Whitecloud scored his first goal of the playoffs on Monday, he probably wasn't expecting to accept an apology from a famous ESPN anchor the next day.

The reason for the apology came during a SportsCenter appearance after Game 3 between the Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers. While recaping a 5–1 Golden Knights victory, host Jon Anderson casually joked about Whitecloud after he reached the defenseman's goal, saying that his last name would be great “if you were toilet paper.

Here's the section:

Full Joke:

… 13 minutes left, we're down to second. Zach Whitecloud, what kind of name is Whitecloud? Great name if you are toilet paper. His first goal in the playoffs…

Anderson may not have been aware that Whitecloud's last name is part of his Sioux Valley Dakota Nation heritage. Whitecloud is the first member of his country to play in the NHL, which he and his family Spoken Frequently About this last,

Anderson issued an apology less than 24 hours later, saying that he should have known more about the players' backgrounds and that he had reached out to the Golden Knights to personally to Whitecloud.

statement, through Ben Gotz of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,

“This is completely on me and I sincerely apologize to Zach, the Golden Knights, their fans and everyone else for what I said. It's my job to be prepared and know the background of the players and I blew it. I personally Will reach out to the team to formally apologize and hope to get a chance to speak to Zach as well.

Anderson apparently managed to reach out to WhiteCloud, as the latter spoke to reporters on Tuesday and said he accepted the apology and hoped the experience could be a learning experience for all:

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Poking fun at an unfamiliar name always comes with a risk, as ESPN's Jon Anderson with Zack Whitecloud learned. (Photo by David Baker/NHLI via Getty Images)

Whitecloud is currently playing in his fifth NHL season with the Golden Knights. After going undecided during his career at Bemidji State, he signed with Las Vegas in 2018 and has played a regular role with the team since then. He signed a six-year, $16.5 million contract extension with the Golden Knights in 2021.

Anderson has been a fixture at ESPN for more than two decades, first joining the network in 1999.