"He dropped an N-bomb on me," said McCarthy, a Flyers forward whose father is black and mother is white.
Domi denied the accusation and accused McCarthy of spitting in his face. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 2-1, but the episode threatened to embroil the league in another racial controversy in the middle of the playoffs.
"He spit in my face, so maybe he was looking for some excuse," Domi said. "I would never use those kind of words, and he knows that. He can say what he wants."
NHL supervisor John D'Amico said he would immediately notify commissioner Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell, the league's disciplinarian.
"I'll phone them and tell them exactly what has happened, and it's up to them on how they want to investigate," D'Amico said.
Campbell did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
McCarthy's father is black and his white mother is a native of Newfoundland. After practice Tuesday at the Flyers' suburban training complex, McCarthy said he had no doubt that Domi used a slur that was preceded by a profanity.
"No doubt whatsoever," McCarthy said. "You can't mistake that word for anything else."
Flyers general manager Bob Clarke declined to say whether he would ask for an investigation, which would be the league's fourth in a little more than a year as it attempts to cope with race relations in the sport.
"Will the league look into it? Yes," D'Amico said.
Before a faceoff in the second period, McCarthy and Domi were talking trash to one another. McCarthy switched sides to be next to Domi, and they continued jawing.
Domi mocked McCarthy by shaking his knees and motioning his hand as if to encourage McCarthy to keep talking.
At the next stoppage, Domi skated away from a tussle in the corner, and McCarthy motioned to Domi and flapped his arms like a chicken. Domi merely rolled his eyes.
McCarthy said Domi used the slur before the faceoff; Domi insisted McCarthy spit on him.
"It was just before the faceoff, and I turned to fight him and he wouldn't fight me," McCarthy said. "You speak words like that, you better be ready to defend yourself. It's the first time it's happened to me in my career, and I think the NHL should do something about it."
Domi, a hockey pugilist, said he was unde strict orders from Toronto coach Pat Quinn not to fight in the playoffs. Pressed on whether he said anything that could have been taken as racial, Domi said, "Absolutely not. And he knows that."
"Their whole bench saw him spit in my face," Domi said. "I showed the linesman, and I left it on my face and I showed the ref, too."
Officials, including referee Paul Stewart, told McCarthy and D'Amico that he didn't hear what the players said or see anyone spit. Stewart declined comment.
"Was there some, say, saliva around his chest or face area?" D'Amico asked. "Yes, there was. So now the thing is, we have the tape. We'll look at the tape and see if we can see some kind of conversation between the two in the second period."
The NHL has investigated several accusations of racial slurs in recent years. McCarthy was involved in one of them. While with Tampa Bay, he and Darcy Tucker were cleared of accusations they made racial gestures at Florida Panthers forward Peter Worrell, who is black, during a preseason game in October.
A month later, former Flyer Chris Gratton was accused of calling Worrell an "ape." Gratton denied it, and the Panthers did not ask the league to investigate.
Chris Simon and Craig Berube, then teammates with Washington, were found guilty of using slurs in separate cases in Nov. 1997. Both were suspended. Shortly thereafter, the league announced a "zero-tolerance" policy on the matter. Berube now plays for the Flyers.
McCarthy and Domi were both born in Ontario. The two clearly dislike each other, and have fought before.
"He's 0-for-5 against me, and he knows that," Domi said. "I don't have to prove anything to him and I don't have to prove anything to my teammates. That's all that matters."
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