Chicago’s Duncan Keith an equal opportunity antagonist

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Duncan Keith made some questionable comments toward a female reporter this week. (Jimmy Simmons/Icon SMI)

Duncan Keith made some questionable comments toward a female reporter this week. (Jimmy Simmons/Icon SMI)

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.

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.

  • Published On Apr 23, 2013

     The truth is Keith is both a sexist and a jerk. He two handed a player that beat him to the outside and scored a beautiful goal. It wasn't an attempt to stop a scoring chance, it was just a loss of control. It's the same player he concussed last year with a vicious elbow at the same point in the season (just before the playoffs). For those that say it's out of character, fool me once shame on you....He's a jerk, period.


     As for sexist? Would he dare say the same thing to a male reporter? Say one that towered over him maybe? Didn't think so. He's a coward and sexist too boot.


     Nobody said hockey players need to be bastions of the community but in this circumstance Keith has lowered himself to something less than what we expect. Hockey players in general are not spoiled little prima donnas like NBA players, it's a shame some are starting to act like it.


    terrible article... the fact is that he said it, you acknowledge he was out of line, the reporter acknowledged 'she's moved on', therefore he was out of're assuming he is an equal opportunity antagonist only because none of the other female reporters have not said anything yet?  What would it say about the other women reporters if they 'jumped in on public dog pile?'. What would other people say about the women reporters (of which, are already a minority).  terrible article in defense of terrible comments


    He specifically mentions her gender and then dismisses that she "can't think the game."  Wow, a comment right out of the 1970's.  Whether Keith is actually sexist is an irrelevant question.  If a male teacher or coach told a girl she "couldn't think the game", he would be rightly crucified.  


    By the way Allen, have you actually seen an athlete reference a reporter being "short or fat or having a bad haircut " as a quality that disqualifies him from asking questions?