Blackhawks' Duncan Keith drawing heat for 'female ref' comments

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Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith is taking some heat Tuesday and not for being over-aggressive with his offensive-zone pinching but with his mouth.

At the end of a gorgeous goal from Daniel Sedin that was a bank-pass from twin brother Henrik to spring a breakaway, Keith gave a good slash to Daniel. It sent the Canucks star to the ice but he immediately popped up and celebrated the goal. There was no penalty called and that was that.

Well that was that until the postgame media scrum with Keith, that is. As he was taking questions he was asked by Karen Thompson of Team 1040 in Vancouver about that slash and whether or not he thought it should have been a penalty.

So you can keep the context, here is the complete exchange. You can also listen to it here.

Thompson: Can you talk about what happened after the Daniel Sedin goal?

Keith: Which one was that one?

Thompson: The third goal.

Keith: The third one? Well, we scored one after that I think ...

Thompson: No, right after the goal. Right after he scored.

Keith: He scored. I went off the ice and took a minus. I don't know, what are you talking about?

Thompson: Just checking.

Keith: What did you see?

Thompson: Well, it looked like there was maybe 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 and that's what the refs are for. We should get you as a ref maybe, hey?

Thompson: Yeah, maybe. I can't skate, though.

Keith: First female referee. You probably can't play either, right?

Thompson: [Laughing] No.

Keith: But you're thinking the game like you know it? K, see ya!

Is it the most eloquent conversation ever? No. The questions were a bit confusing and not exactly straightforward, Keith had to bring it out of Thompson. Then when they finally get to the heart of the matter, Keith's response isn't ideal.

The Blackhawks defenseman is drawing plenty of criticism and a lot of talk about the S word; sexism. Here is one such example. The last part of the exchange about being the first female referee is where the charge is coming from, bringing up her gender seemingly pointless.

I've listened to it a few times, and it honestly seems to me like playful banter for most of it. I wasn't there, so it's tough to judge, but Thompson sounded like she was OK with it right then and they continued. The tenor didn't sound like it changed until the very last line from Keith when it came across as much more antagonistic.

Personally, I don't feel like it was a sexist remark. Cathal Kelly of the Toronto Star didn't find it sexist either. She noted that it actually signals a level "playing" field, not a discrimanatory one in locker rooms.

What it was, though, was the classic and lazy player response of "you didn't play the game so you're dumb" attitude. To me that was the biggest offense put forth by Keith, not anything about gender.

It's a silly argument made sometimes by players. What bearing having played the sport has on your ability to understand it is beyond me. Tell me that I don't understand what it's like to be pro athlete, fine. I agree. I don't understand that. But understanding the game is different. It can be much more scholastic. You can study the game, watch it endlessly without ever playing and know the game.

For what it's worth, the referee did appear to signal a penalty but immediately wiped it off because of the goal. So it was a legit question from Thompson, even if it wasn't asked in the best way.

Was it needless to establish the fact that Thompson is a woman and would be the first female referee? No, and if Keith could do it again I'm sure he'd leave that out. It was unnecessary, but I also think the criticism for it is a bit unnecessary.

Heck, Thompson wasn't even bothered by it.

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