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Duncan Keith takes sexism heat after dismissing Vancouver reporter’s question

Greg Wyshynski
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As eloquence goes, no one will ever confuse Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith’s oratory skills with, say, Morgan Freeman. Like the time we all thought he was proud of the head-shot he gave Daniel Sedin, but it turned out he just left out the word “not.”

On Monday night, after the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss at the Vancouver Canucks, Keith’s eloquence was on display again in speaking with Karen Thomson, a reporter for Team 1040 in Vancouver, who asked him about this play against (who else?) Daniel Sedin on the Canucks’ third goal:

As you can see, Keith gave Sedin a rather solid slash to the back on the goal. Thomson decided to confront Keith about it in the postgame, and … well, things got a little too gender-specific for some.

Listen to the exchange here, or read below:

Keith: “What did you see?”

Thomson: “Well, there it looked like there was a penalty that went undetected. You seemed a bit frustrated.”

Keith: “Oh, no. I don’t think there was. I think he scored a nice goal, and that’s what the ref saw. Maybe we should get you as a ref maybe, hey?

Thomson: “Yeah, maybe. Can’t skate though.”

Keith: “First female referee. Can’t probably play either, right? But you’re thinking the game, like you know it? Seeya.”

Annnnnd scene. Keep in mind the "un-detected" penalty was in fact a delayed call on Keith wiped away by Sedin's goal. (Thanks to Tim Peek for that clarification.)

Said Thomson, on Twitter:

So I think my exchange with Duncan Keith is renewing the #Canucks #Blackhawks rivalry! Lol #heldmyown

— Karen Thomson (@KJT1040) April 23, 2013

Mooney smells the rancid stench of gender bias:

I’m not sure what sort of importance the league places on something like this but, to me, this is the sort of thing that needs to be addressed and perhaps given some kind of supplemental discipline. Maybe a fine, just as a reminder to all the players that bringing up someone’s gender in this way — or really any element of otherness, be it colour or sexuality — is completely unacceptable.

First off: The Blackhawks would do well to release the full audio or video of this exchange if it’s available. We’re heard there’s a bit more provocation on the part of Thomson than the Team 1040 audio would let on. Again: Not confirmed, just relayed to us.

But as for Keith … yeah, the “first female ref” comment was just begging for someone to crown him King Duncan, Lord of the Sexists. It's oafish and demeaning.

But I don’t think that was his intention.

His intention was to do what many pro athletes backed into a corner do, which is to accuse the journalist pestering them of being a clueless moron because they “never played the game.”

(Which must suck for science writers, who are summarily disqualified from opining about the Rover because they’ve never been to [expletive] Mars ...)

[Also: Tyler Seguin apologizes after insensitive tweet]

I’ve gotten it on multiple occasions. Every writer eventually does, whether it’s a player pulling rank or a coach doing the same. It’s waving the white flag in any conversation, no different than when a traditional media guy dismisses the opinion of a blogger because we haven’t marinated in the man-stench of a locker room as often as they have. (Some reference to “mother’s basement” usually follows.)

The “you haven’t played the game” card is played for humiliation, out of desperation, and frequently for the purposes of emasculation.

Ironic, then, that Keith would play it with a woman as his interrogator.

Again: He didn’t need to go with the “female ref” stuff. But his comments seemed much more in line with “you don’t know what you’re talking about” than “you’re disqualified from talking about this because of your gender.”

Let’s just all be happy she wasn’t speaking to Matt Cooke tonight.

• • •

UPDATE: Here's the full exchange via the Chicago Tribune and reporter Chris Kuc, who was in the scrum with Thomson and Keith. Listen to the audio here.

Thomson: “Can you talk about what happened after the Daniel Sedin goal?”

Keith: “Which one was that one?

Thomson: “The third goal.”

Keith: “The third one? Well, we scored one goal after that I think and the game ended 3-1.”

Thomson: “Right after the goal when you were on the ice with Daniel. Right after he scored. You remember?”

Keith: “I went off the ice and took a minus. I don’t know. What are you talking about?”

Thomson: “Nothing. Just checking.”

Keith: “What did you see?”

Thomson: “It looked like maybe there was a penalty that went undetected. You seemed a bit frustrated.”

Keith: “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: “Yeah, maybe.”

Keith: The first female … ”

Thomson: “I can’t skate, though.”

Keith: “The first female referee. You can’t play probably either, right? But you're thinking the game like you know it? Okay, see ya.”

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