[We're on a tight posting schedule, so naturally, criticisms of Eric Francis' column yesterday have already made the rounds. Another good one I read was over at Japers Rink, which went up yesterday.]

Let’s pretend we don’t know anything about Eric Francis, a Calgary Sun writer who is a regular on CBC’s Hotstove as an ill-informed panellist with bad hair and worse dress. Let’s pretend we haven’t read all the stupid things he’s written in his life, and, even if he’s done Pulitzer-winning work, mock him for his stupid Wednesday morning column which was just one long, nationalist diatribe.

This is an article PRINTED IN AN ACTUAL NEWSPAPER, entitled ‘Russian junior star has lots of maturing to do‘ because, see, despite a continued track record of success at International tournaments, being on a team that won the gold medal last year and fresh off a 6-5 win off of Canada in this season’s semifinals, Francis seems intent on lecturing Kuznetsov because he doesn’t play the game the right way…

“Somewhere in D.C. Alex Ovechkin is smiling.”

…and neither does Alexander Ovechkin. Ovechkin is happy because he wants to watch the world burn. That is the only reason he might take joy in the fact that his younger countrymen, led by a player that he’ll get to play with next year, won a pretty exciting hockey game on Tuesday night.

No, Alex Ovechkin is pretty much The Joker.

“That gap in his grin is gaping like Team Canada’s net seemed to be early Tuesday night in what will go down as one of the most shocking losses in Canadian junior lore.”

Check out the wording here: ‘shocking’ loss.

“The Washington Capitals forward, who is only starting to recover from the legendary 7-3 beatdown Canada laid on Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2010 Olympics, had to have been watching his Russian juniors semifinal win with glee.”

And the wording here: ‘beatdown!’

The only way that the Russians can appear to beat the Canadians, it seems, is if the Canadians end up beating themselves and it’s a national travesty. I can picture Eric Francis furiously tapping his fingers on his keyboard before he types ‘BEATDOWN’ into his laptop, blood boiling and an air of rage on his face. “What word,” he thinks “really encapsulates what CANADA did to those commie jerks two years ago?”

“Fitting then that the man who did most of the damage was 19-year-old Capitals prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov, who will no doubt join Ovechkin in Washington next year to follow in the Gr8 Eight’s footsteps.”

What’s really messed is that Francis sees this as an insult to Kuznetsov, comparing him to Ovechkin. I think most other writers (at least the ones whose skull has been hollowed out for a brain) would see that Ovechkin has had a pretty successful career so far: Rookie of the Year, scoring champion, goal-scoring champion, MVP, voted MVP amongst players…

“Not only did the kid drafted 26th overall in 2010 score three times and add an assist in a game that was 5-1 Russia by the end of the second (only to end as a one-goal game, thanks to Canada’s heart), he also factored in on some of the shenanigans that made both teams look bad for a time.”

CANADA’S HEART! Russia, of course, doesn’t have any heart, and this is why they will continually be the second-best hockey nation in the world. You see, even when Russia wins, they don’t win the “right” way and Canada does, ergo A+ Canada and booooo Russia.

“As a frustrated Canadian squad began its meltdown late in the second period with a series of penalties and goals against, Russian Ildar Isangulov decided to lash back with a vicious elbow to the face of Boone Jenner.”

Eric Francis' newspaper also trolls the home team, too. (Photo via Yahoo's Sunaya Sapurji)

He got a two-minute elbowing penalty. It probably should have been more, but the Canadians, down 5-1, had a chance to go on a power play and get one of those goals back. But the Canadian player lost his focus, speared a chirping Kuznetsov, and the two-minute powerplay became a two-minute 4-on-4 followed by a three-minute penalty-kill awfully fast.

“As the groggy Canadian slowly got up Kuznetsov went over to say something to him.”

That’s the heroically downed, groggy, defeated Boone Jenner (somewhat of a romantic hero), not the idiot who wound up spearing Kuznetsov.

“He had no business being around the fallen player.”

I thought he did an excellent job drawing a 5-minute major penalty. That’s a pretty good reason to be wandering around fallen players, as it turns out. How can you call a player who took a spear to the chest earning a 5-minute powerplay selfish?

Ladies, never visit Eric Francis’ Den of Rationalization.

“As the only returning player from last year’s gold medal-winning team, Kuznetsov wears the C on a team it appears at times he wants simply to carry on his back.”

Every player wants to carry the team on its back. The difference between Kuznetsov and every player is that Kuznetsov has been.

…did you just not notice that Kuznetsov scored a hat-trick in a game that eliminated the Canadians, or we’re you too caught up noticing that he’s a selfish Russian that doesn’t care enough about winning games?

“After scoring his second goal of the game, Kuznetsov refused to embrace any of his four teammates, instead soaking up the limelight himself while showboating and then making his way over to the Russian bench for high-fives.”

Didn’t you have a press pass, Mr. Francis? You could have gone over and asked his teammates how they felt about Kuznetsov’s second goal.

What makes this doubly-stupid is that Brett Connolly did THE EXACT SAME THING after his first goal of the game, but, being Canadian, that’s just an excited kid caught up in the moment.

“For those unfamiliar, Kuznetsov made a name for himself earlier in the tourney when he threatened a tourney record with nine points in a 14-0 win over the Latvians.”

Also, a year ago, he got three assists when the Russians, who have no heart, came back from a 3-0 deficit against the Canadians in the gold-medal game to win 5-3.

“He’s a heck of a talent, but not much of a teammate.”

How in righteous fuck do you know, sir?

“He was the one who selfishly tried to score on the empty net in the final minute by icing the puck and giving Canada another shot at tying the game.”

Here’s a test for Eric Francis: Which Russian player iced the puck with 40 seconds left prompting the offensive zone face-off that allowed Jordan Eberle to score in 2009?

These are the trivial points that just aren’t remembered because they really aren’t that important outside the scope of a single moment. Didn’t another Russian ice the puck after Kuznetsov did? See, I forget already?

“Smart, team players don’t do that.”

Oh, which players ice the puck?

“Players trying to pad stats do.”

Oh, now I see it. Of all the stupid things you could criticize a hockey player for, “scoring too much” is definitely one of them.

“He was also the one who showed little humility while accepting his player-of-the-game award by putting his hands up to his ears to encourage the booing that rained down on him.”

Ah, yes, the I-Can’t-Hear-You gesture, used the world over, in every single sport almost every week by a guy who is being booed at. This time, it is a building full of drunk adults, booing a 19-year old kid. It’s a heel move, but Team Canada have had plenty of heels over the years. They’ve also had lots of good hockey players, too, and good hockey players are allowed to be heels. This isn’t WWE.

“Some call it being a character.”

Eric Francis knows better.

“Others call it being classless — the kind of thing a kid who scores nine points on midget players would do.”

Eric Francis knows that that type of player is classless.


“He’s 19 and he has lots of growing up to do.”

And he needs Canadian citizenship. Those players have HEART!

“But that didn’t make it any less painful to watch on the juniors’ biggest stage last night.”

Nothing really erases a painful loss than reading some butthurt columnist whining about it. It almost makes the game worth losing to know that Eric Francis got upset. Because when Eric Francis is happy, you know that there is something totally wrong with hockey.

“In a Washington organization that also houses Ovechkin and Alex Semin, somehow we think Kuznetsov will fit right in.”

We know Kuznetsov hates celebrating with his teammates (he prefers his own spotlight) so here, he must be celebrating with his teammates in a way to also mock Tyson Barrie.

No two Russian players are different. This is so overtly stereotypical and reeking of horrible bitterness. This is just as bad as some ignorant racist on the radio saying that he can’t tell [entire race of people] apart. After a whole column picking apart the personality of one hockey player, Eric Francis paints every Russian with the same brush.

Here we go… people will just say “ignore Francis”, but, no, that isn’t possible. This column ignited an absolute firestorm because somebody with a paid space to write things writes a column pandering to the blue-collar jingoists that Francis assumes buys the Calgary Sun.

Also, it was pointed out on Twitter by a few people… who is the “we” that Francis is referring to? Because it isn’t Canadian hockey fans—otherwise Alexander Ovechkin wouldn’t be such a big draw when he makes Canadian trips. Is it the hockey media? Nowhere in any class I ever took was I ever taught to properly stereotype an entire nation of people.

Reverse the roles here. If a Canadian player scores a hat-trick in a 6-5 win over the Russians, is he a selfish idiot, or is he clutch and heroic? A beauty, if you will.