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Chase meant ‘no malice’ with use of phrase

Bob Chase said he intended “no malice whatsoever” with a remark made Saturday during the course of the Komets’ game at Rapid City, S.D.

In the second period of the Komets’ 3-1 victory over the Rush, after a Fort Wayne player was stick-checked from behind, the team’s longtime play-by-play broadcaster said: “A little Jap attack from behind that time.”

Chase, 85, who is in his 59th season calling Komets games, is a veteran of World War II and served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater for 2 1/2 years.

“If I had said something that was a critical thing with reflections on specific people like the Japanese, that would be something,” Chase said. “We’re more than 60 years away from that war. And I was in that war. ... To me, what I said was not a slur.”

The 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is Wednesday.

Chase has called every season of Komets hockey except the inaugural one, and he has served as the team’s general manager. He has the No. 40 retired in his honor at Memorial Coliseum. He is also the former sports director at WOWO, which carries the Komets’ games.

Chase said he was saddened to learn at least one listener had contacted The Journal Gazette expressing dismay over Chase’s description.

“I don’t want to be inconsiderate to anybody,” Chase said. “This was part of our vocabulary for a lot of years. And if you haven’t lived (through WWII), it’s hard to understand.”

Chase said, however, people can be overly sensitive.

“I feel sad about (this) kind of a thing,” he said. “A little, teeny-weeny nitpicking moment. People don’t understand or are so sensitive that they lurk on every word so they can pounce, and that’s a spiteful person.”

Organizations like the Japanese American Citizens League decry the derogatory nature of “Jap.” But Koichiro Otani, a Japanese-born associate professor at IPFW in the department of public policy, doesn’t consider Chase’s remark particularly offensive.

“In the context of a hockey game, I don’t think of this as such a big thing,” Otani said. “He wasn’t referencing some really terrible attack. A play like this happens all the time in the course of a game, right? If someone brings a knife and he injures another person, that would be worse. ... Some people won’t like (him using ‘Jap’) but I don’t personally think it’s that offensive, no.”

Komets president Michael Franke couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Komets (11-5-0), who have won a CHL-best six in a row, play at Bloomington, Ill., on Friday. The Blaze is a league-worst 3-12-2.

Notes: Tonight at Applebee’s on North Clinton Street, there will be a tip-a-Komet event. The team will wait tables from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation. ... Fans are asked to bring donations such as books, magazines, soap and socks to the next three Komets home games (Saturday, Sunday and Dec. 17) to support U.S. troops as part of Operation Komet Kare Package. For more information on what to donate, call 481-0011.