By Allan Muir
So Duncan Keith is being pilloried as a sexist this morning. Maybe he should be, maybe not. All I know for sure is that he has dealt with scores of female reporters over the course of his eight-year NHL career. The fact that none of them has joined in the public dog pile is telling.
But Keith might get stuck with the tag after the text of his dismissive exchange with Karen Thomson, a reporter with Team 1040 radio in Vancouver, went viral.
Thomson caught up with Keith Monday night after the Hawks were manhandled in Vancouver. Her question about a missed penalty call leading to the Canucks’ third goal might have been off the mark, but it wasn’t unreasonable.
Keith’s response, on the other hand, was the sort of defensive outburst any seasoned reporter has seen dozens of times.
“Oh, no. I don’t think there was anything. I think he scored a nice goal. The ref was right there. That’s what the ref saw. We should get you as a ref maybe, eh?”
Thomson laughed his jab off, saying she couldn’t skate. But Keith wasn’t finished.
“The first female referee. You can’t play probably either, right? But you’re thinking the game like you know it? OK, see ya.”
Okay, you see what he did there? He took the thing that made her different–she’s a woman!–and used that as an insult. Same way he’d pick up on another reporter being short or fat or having a bad haircut and use that to take a shot at them. It’s not the same thing, of course, but it probably seems that way to the schoolyard mentality that, sadly, some athletes never get beyond.
And then he threw in the ultimate fallback of all athlete retorts–”You never played the game”– to shoo her away.
Here’s audio of the entire exchange, including the questions leading up to it, for a little context.
At first he seems to be speaking with a smile on his face, but then he colors his comments with a level of snarky disdain that reporters contend with on a daily basis.
So what really happened here? Maybe it was a bad day. You won’t find many guys in a good mood after they’ve just been throttled by an arch-rival. Catch someone at their worst and this sort of thing happens. We’re all guilty of lashing out on occasion.
Or maybe he’s a jerk. There’s certainly plenty of those around the game, even with Chris Pronger on LTIR. And Keith has a history of limited patience with the media.
But sexist? I don’t know. Again, I come back to the fact that none of the scores of women who cover the game, including several top-notch reporters in Chicago, have stepped forward to take issue with his behavior. They might say he’s rude, but not any moreso to them than to the men who cover the team. If anything, he’s an equal opportunity antagonist.
Thompson, to her credit, has handled the controversy with the ultimate professionalism. Remember, she’s not the one who made this into an issue and she seems only too ready to let it go.
Hockey is an emotional game and things are often said in the heat of the moment. I think this is what happened last night. I’ve moved on—
Karen Thomson (@KJT1040) April 23, 2013
Good for her. Let’s hope Keith offers her the apology that anyone would deserve after being treated so rudely and that the incident is forgotten so Thomson can go back to being just a good reporter. No other adjective needed.