Duncan Keith: Sexist? Or just a jerk?

Patrick Johnston
April 23 2013 10:29AM


Yes, this is a very flattering picture of Duncan Keith

Twitter blew up on Monday night, and the blogosphere blew up on Tuesday morning, about an exchange between the Team 1040's Karen Thomson and Blackhawks dman Duncan Keith during the post game scrum on following Monday night's Canuckw victory. It was an exchange that focused on Keith errant slash of Daniel Sedin during the latter's scoring the third goal of the game.

Keith framed his comments as asking Thomson whether she had ever played the game. Did he do that because he figured, as a woman, she'd never played sports? Or did he do it because of the tired, 'oh, you're just a reporter, you couldn't possibly know what it's like to be in the heat of the moment during a game, since, obviously, you've never played the game.'

Many jumped on the former bandwagon, but is that really the case?

Before getting into what Keith said, let's recall the incident in question:

Keith is well and truly beaten; he's played the game enough to know that. It's clear he's had a beef with the Canucks (and Daniel in particular, it would seem) for some time. Seeing a Sedin streak away like that, given how badly the game was going anyway, must have been frustrating. I've played the game, and I've done stupid things with my stick.

But that doesn't mean you don't admit it was dumb.

What Keith did was pretty dumb. His timing was off. It was a desperate attempt, at best, to hinder Daniel's attempt on goal but more likely to just make sure he felt it. It was a cynical play, born from frustration and annoyance.

It was a fair thing to ask about after the game; this is a public sport, filled with opinion. The reporter's main job is to find out what happened.

That's what Karen Thomson was seeking to do. Too often sports reporters are guilty of asking 'softball' questions - of letting players off the hook in explaining their actions. Homerism probably did motivate Thomson somewhat, but in an indirect kind of way of knowing what the fans in Vancouver wanted to hear. Nothing wrong with any of that: she saw an event, one that most would see as somewhat harmless but still pretty callous, and she asked for a comment.

Instead, she got a response that was fuelled solely by arrogance.

'I'm a hockey player, what could you possibly know?' Maybe she should have said 'I don't know Duncan, you're the expert  - we've all seen the video, you swung your stick wildly, is that a common practice for you? No? So why did you do it?'

Where this gets potentially far worse is Keith's inclusion of 'first female referee' in his response. Is he implying that since she's a woman, she's unlikely to become an NHL-qualified official? Probably. Is he implying 'this is a man's world, so get out'? That's harder to judge and I'm just not sure.

There's no doubting that Keith was being a massive jerk. He's parroting an old line, one that occasionally has some merit - there are plenty of commentators who make very little effort to understand how things happen, choosing to give their opinion without actually asking any questions - but in this case, Thomson was simply asking a question. It wasn't unreasonable for Keith to begin with 'what did you see?' but to then assume that her question was junk because it had merely been asked, that was ridiculous and over the line. 

To even bring up gender? That's how you get into trouble.

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Patrick Johnston is a Vancouver journalist. In addition to regular contributions here at Canucks Army, his work has appeared in The Province, Hockey Now and on the CBC. Check out his blog and other writing at http://johnstonwrites.wordpress.com or follow him on twitter: @risingaction
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#1 John Andress
April 23 2013, 11:49AM
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Sexist or jerk? Clearly, both. And to the Chicago trolls on the site, this is not about a hockey competition, this is about a guy being an a-hole. By condoning his behavior you are tarring yourselves with the same brush.

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#2 DCR
April 23 2013, 02:44PM
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He's both sexist and a jerk - but mostly a jerk.

I just wish I understood why Chicago has such a hate on for Daniel. Burrows I would understand, but Daniel?

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#3 Human relations
April 24 2013, 03:47AM
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Anyone who understand human relations knows the answer to your question.

He very clearly was being sexist. He used gender to belittle this reporter in an attempt to demonstrate she has no business asking her question - cause you know, she's female, she knows nothing about hockey. Most blatant example of sexism I've seen from a hockey player in a long time. Can hardly wait for this to be used a case study one day.

He is heated after a tough loss. As a result, his inhibitions are lowered. She then asked him a question he didn't like. He responded the only way he knew how when his inhibitions were lowered - he reverted to his normal self. The one who isn't putting on a show for the cameras, the one who isn't following post game script from his organization. He attacked using tactics which degrade, discredit, devalue the other person. Guess what? You can guarantee this is how he always is when he's angry. You know, a guy who would 2 hand chop a guy who blew by him on the ice and scored a goal. A guy who would say 'I'm gonna get you', then 10 minutes later elbow him in the head. Yah. This is the type of behavior of a devolved 12 year old kid who doesn't know how to deal with challenging situations. Uses sexist comments, physically attacks people to show his displeasure with a situation.

This is a guy who needs help - therapy most likely. I pitty his wife cause I guarantee she has to deal with this type of crap often. You know this isn't the first time this happened, and it certainly won't be the last.

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#4 EastVanHalen
April 24 2013, 11:32AM
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"Harder to judge?" Good lord, no it is not. Of course it's sexist. Textbook sexist. Sexism 101, this is it. (While we're on our "isms", re: Fred-65's comment - I know plenty of labourers with more class than Keith. The stockbrokers? Not so much.)

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#5 Josh
April 23 2013, 10:39AM
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I'd say it is on the same level as calling players "sisters" which the Sedins (and I've heard the kostitsyn brothers) are often reffered to as.

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#6 Bill Clinton
April 23 2013, 10:44AM
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Yawn. You guys won. This is how you celebrate? No wonder ya'll almost burned down Vancouver.

And she was pushing his buttons. Lord knows Monica pushed mine, woooooo doggy!

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#7 Unknown Comic
April 23 2013, 10:49AM
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Reminds of the tired Vancouver narrative from playoffs ago. Blackhawks "lost their composure".

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#8 NarkusMaslund
April 23 2013, 11:53AM
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Possibly (probably) the former, definitively the latter. Most likely simply the result of an entitled jerk who has talked that way all his life. I suspect it's unlikely "intentional" sexism, just part of who he is.

Stay classy, Dunc.

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#9 Senrik Hedin
April 23 2013, 12:15PM
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Well you have to be a jerk to be a sexist.. and I'm not entirely sure if Keith cares that he could be/is perceived as a sexist. Hockey is not a sport that has been particularly sensitive to gender issues. That much is at least clear from the responses among Chicago fans, apparently.

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#10 Fred-65
April 23 2013, 01:27PM
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Lets be honest for the most we all realize that most of these guys would be in some labouring job if they weren't born with a certain sporting abilities. This is a case of a player who forgets that. He has a sense on public entitlement. Mr Keith seems to have lost his way, maybe its time he went home and visited family such as his mother and sisters.

If you're looking hard to describe this guy I have to think that word would be jerk

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#11 Lemming
April 23 2013, 07:21PM
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Well, we already know he's a jerk from past encounters.

It just turns out he might be sexist too.

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#12 randy35
April 24 2013, 09:20PM
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sexest or jerk? Niether, if she was any kind of HOCKEY reporter she should know that if you score on a given chance the penalty would be waved anyway. Stupid question from a so called HOCKEY reporter.

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#13 Defenseman
April 28 2013, 11:34AM
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I have played hockey as I defenseman for 44 years now. I will say what he did have any of you nah sayers ever played the game.

He was not beaten that badly, the play came from the far side of the ice, he tried his best to cover for his partner and catch him, as a last ditch effort tried to distract him from his shot with a tap letting him he was close. There was no intend to injure.

Even the commentator over reacted and then corrected himself.

If you watched the play closer and had ever played defense you would not of asked the question.

Not worth talking about after losing the game.

Ask about the game not a tap on the ass.

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