Phoenix Coyotes forward Raffi Torres' decision to dress as rap mogul Jay-Z for Halloween, complete with darkened skin, has sparked fierce criticism on the web.

The NHL player was photographed along with his wife, Gianna, who was dressed up as a pregnant Beyonce Knowles, at the Coyotes' team Halloween Party Sunday night. The image went viral after his teammate, Paul Bissonnette, tweeted it to his 160,000 followers.

The photo quickly drew flak from all corners of the web.

"Seriously people, don't do it, don't wear black-face on Halloween, or ever. It's stupid, it's ignorant, and it just doesn't fly," wrote Thomas Drance on the blog in a post called "Raffi Torres Messes Up."

The Phoenix Coyotes issued a statement, saying neither the costume nor Torres was racist.

"There was absolutely nothing racist about Raffi and his wife's costumes. Raffi is a huge fan of Jay-Z and his wife loves Beyonce. It was a Halloween party. The fact that this was reported is ridiculous. We will have no further comment," the statement says.

Bissonnette, an enforcer known more for his tweeting than his scoring, also defended his teammate on Twitter.

"For someone to dress up as one of the most succesful couple's of our generation on Halloween isn't racism. You are wrong," he tweeted at an angry fan.

"As far as everyone trying to call ‘Racism' because Raffi dressed up like Jay-Z can simmer down. He's a huge Jay-Z fan," he also wrote.

Other NHLers backed Torres as well.

"I can't believe this Raffi Torres costume is blowing up. It's Halloween! Aren't you supposed to dress up? I thought that was a great costume," Toronto Maple Leaf forward Tyler Bozak tweeted.

For a period of time on Monday afternoon, "Raffi Torres" was the second most trending term in Canada, only behind Halloween.

Torres, who appears very light-skinned, is actually the first NHL player of Mexican and Peruvian descent.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, he faced racial taunts while playing minor hockey in the Greater Toronto Area. His mother is quoted saying that she was once told her son "should be selling tacos."

Torres' father immigrated to Toronto in the 1970s.

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