[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.

Comments (37)

  1. I recall that Francis was actually encouraging Vancouver police to shoot rioters back in June.

    What a piece of work.

  2. Cam, I’ve followed you on Twitter for a longish time, and you should be embarrassed by your writing right now. I understand calling someone onto the carpet – and in this case, you’re exactly right that Eric Francis was racist/offensive and deserves to be brought to bear – but the manner you did it in?
    This is reminiscent of grade 7 message board fights, where you try and pick something apart piece by piece and everyone applauds you as the hero; really all that’s being done is your masking of poorly thought out rebuttals with snark.

    Make a better effort or save it for a personal blog next time, this shouldn’t be on BHS.

    • Really adalyfrey? This is a blog post, and a damn good one at that. Exactly what needed to be said, and with some creative liberties. We need more of this and less of Eric Francis.

      • I legitimately see no need for this post; I find it almost as hateful, just as juvenile, poorly written, and sprinkled with poor attempts at humor. It’s not ThePensBlog/DownGoesSpezza bad as far as trying too hard, but it is close and that says a lot. No offense, Cam, but your disjointed Don Cherry bit is the same. You have a niche, you’re damn good at it – stick to it!

        As to the actual subject: look, everyone knows the Sun is a rag. Francis is a hack. Take him to task for his article, but not like this.

        • It’s called “fisking,” raised to an art form of invective by the now-defunct Fire Joe Morgan website. It’s actually an established form of point-by-point takedown with a pedigree about as long as the Internet’s.

          Is it William F Buckley? No. But the original by Francis richly deserved such a treatment. Well done, Cam.

    • If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll notice I’m often very rocky with mainstream viewpoints dished out by popular commentators and writers. I do write a weekly take slamming Don Cherry, after all.

  3. Love the piece. Superb. Keep it up.

  4. Great article.

    I have always enjoyed when BHS (and previously HoH) picked apart a fool line-by-line.

    The Calgary Sun has always been a paper that panders to the lowest common denominator.

  5. Wow. The Score actually allowed this to be posted.

    Two points quickly, as I don’t have time to copy and paste pieces of your rant and respond to every glaring error or omission.

    One – When he referred to the Latvians as Midgets, I believe he was focusing on their level of play, not their stature.

    Two – Ovechkin and Semin do not represent all Russians. Their character and over-emphasized individual play and lack of team effort have been exploited numerous times by their actions on the ice, as well as by many other media personalities/outlets. Eric Francis is not the only columnist to point out this fact.

    Thanks for your time.

    Oh, and check your punctuation – “…eliminated the Canadians, or we’re you too caught up noticing that he’s a selfish Russian…”.

    • I’d say that the criticisms directed at Semin are warranted, but I really don’t see how Alexander Ovechkin can be considered a “me-first” player. He has 50 points in 37 playoff games and was the only reason the Capitals had a fighting chance in that Montreal series a couple years back.

      I think Ovechkin is nails, despite what we’re led to believe about him being a coach-killer and all that. Towards the end of Boudreau’s timeline, he was really playing defense, foregoing his shots on offense, and did it with the humility of an old Canadian captain trying to do everything it took to get his team to win. I just don’t think that the strategy was going to work for the Capitals.

      For this, they are two very different players.

      • Thanks for this piece. We Caps fans haven’t’ seen much of Kuznetsov directly except for his play in the two World Juniors, but we do know that he also has had an incredibly successful season playing in the KHL. He is quite a talent that only dropped as far as he did in the draft because too many GMs worry about the Russian factor. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the team, which cannot be before next season at the very earliest.

        Several of the responders to your blog do have me shaking my head, however. Semin and Ovechkin are about as different as two people can be: in personality, in styles of play, and in their particular talents. Clearly anyone who lumps them together doesn’t watch this team often enough to have a clue. The word “enigmatic” does not represent all Russians. And is so far off the mark when describing Ovechkin it just boggles my mind. Lazy stereotypes.

      • One further point: that “selfish” = Russian players is likewise a tired and patently false meme. Both Ovechkin and Semin are sublime passers. Ovechkin in particular is underrated in this regard.

    • Hate to point this out, but once you pick at someone else’s grammar, your own becomes fair game.

      “Their character and over-emphasized individual play and lack of team effort have been exploited numerous times by their actions on the ice, as well as by many other media personalities/outlets.”

      “Exploited” is not the correct word. An opponent could exploit this to defeat the Capitals; when you’re talking from the POV of either the Caps or of neutral observers, you should use “exposed” or “revealed.”

      You did use the proper “their” so you’ve got that going for you… which is nice.

      More to the point, however, I think you misunderstand Francis when he talks about Semin and Ovechkin. He’s the one claiming that Kuznetsov will fit right in with Semin and Ovechkin – all conveniently Russian. He didn’t talk about Ovechkin sacrificing offense the past couple of years to play tighter defense. Neither did he say he’d fit right in with Caps teammate Mike Green, who is often considered too eager to abandon his defensive responsibilities to play as a fourth forward. Is that because Green is a good ol’ western Canadian kid, and a Calgary native to boot?

      That’s just as bad as the “soft Euros” bunk that got tossed around so much in the 80′s, or the “enigmatic Russians” label from the 90′s. Alexei Yashin must have thought that “enigmatic Russian” were his two middle names while he played in North America. After all that crap, why would he ever open up to or trust the media or the fickle fan bases in either Ottawa or Long Island? And why should anyone trust Francis while his brain churns out this nonsense?

    • Oh yeah, Alex Semin is a selfish player.

      That’s why he passed up a brilliant opportunity to score so that Cody Eakin could score his first ever NHL goal.

      Also, +1 to mikb, Linz, Alexander Ovechkin, Sandwiches1123, capsyoungguns, and to you, Mr. Charron.

  6. I disagree with adalyfrey on this one. Cam says “Let’s pretend we don’t know anything about Eric Francis” suggesting that let’s try to forget that Francis’ journalistic record is on par with Dan Carcillo’s Lady Byng chances.

    I think Cam just simply can’t forget, as he shouldn’t, that Eric Francis is possibly one of the worst Canadian sports journalists.

    I was reading the Francis tweets during the game and I just shook my head. If they were just tweets, this would have been fine. Twitter is seen more as opinions of the moment anyways. But to put this garbage into a column that is published Nationally is too much. You can’t just ignore it.

    When it comes to history and future historians researching our cultures, the first major primary source that is referenced is the newspaper (and will most likely be online blogs that have been archived). Future historians are going to look back and think that Eric Francis was a voice of the people. He is not. His misunderstanding of the game of hockey; poor reporting; and ignorant opinions are not shared by most of the country. The better person to listen to was a great voice of reason in Bob McKenzie who called a spade a spade. Something Francis seems unwilling to do because he either thinks it will sell newspapers/attract readers (which obviously it has); or because he’s that ignorant and truly believes the filth coming out of his brain and onto the keyboard.

    I will criticize one thing about Cam’s post. I don’t think Ildar Isangulov deserved any more than a 2 minute penalty.

    The Rene Bourque elbow was a flagrant attempt to knock out Nick Backstrom the other night. It deserved 5-games because it was malicious.

    The Isangulov elbow was a continuation of a hit: He went to line Jenner Boone up (which he did well) but in the natural movement of hitting, Isangulov’s arm came up and his elbow made contact with Boone in the upper chest area (does that sound Shanaban-ish enough for everyone?). There was no malicious intent of running an elbow into Boone’s face, it was incidental, but still deserved a penalty: just as an incidental contact to the head of an opponent while following through on a shot is a high-stick. There is difference between that high-stick and the McSorely/Brashear high-stick. If you can’t determine the difference, please, stop watching sports.

    Anyways, Cam, I liked the article. My favourite line is: “How in righteous fuck do you know, sir?”

    I’d like to know Eric Francis’ opinion of Corey Perry. In my mind he’s a top 10 goal-scorer/top 20 point scorer in the league and he’s easily the dirtiest player in that list, but that’s me. Maybe we need a show that features Eric Francis and Don Cherry.

  7. Great Article !! I’m usually linking to the Footy section but this one caught my eye.

  8. Lumping ovechkin, semin and kuznetsov together is not the same as saying all Russian players are the same. Most people who follow the NHL agree that Ovechkin and Semin are lacking in some areas of their game. Lots of commentators question Semin’s heart and some do the same for Ovechkin, or at least question his hockey IQ.

    I agree that the Eric Francis piece was embarrassing and I have no idea whether kuznetsov is another ovie or semin (in a bad way) but Charron’s rebuttal was guilty of similar generalizations and exaggerations as the Francis piece.

  9. Eric Francis is a piece of work. Unfortunately he is not the only one at that organization that displays a lack of journalistic integrity. Have you ever watched the Sun television channel. It is jaw-droppingly biased. Like Fox news, but without the sheen of professionalism that Fox presents.

  10. Of course he needs to grow up. He’s f*cking 19 years old. My time spent as a 19-year-old was the reason my four-year degree took me five.

  11. Just to make comment about icing the puck in the final minute to give the Canadians another chance late:

    Whether the intent was to pot one more or it was just the player hastily dumping the puck out of the zone, this is a pretty stupid play. For Charron to brush it off as saying how no one remembers who made the bone-head move late in the game who gave the other team a chance to come back, I find that hard to agree with.

    This happens across all sports; Billy Buckner or Chris Webber at Michigan are two examples that immediately come to mind. Mental or physical lapses that are *remembered* as the point that cost the game. So to say that no one remembers these people (which I disagree with any way) as a way of justifying the move to dump the puck in the final minute doesn’t quite add up for me. And I’ll be honest in saying that I do not recall who did the same thing in ’09 before Eberle’s heroics but does that eliminate the fact that a) I remember that the Canadian’s had their chance because of an iced puck and b) that a bone-head play was made that ultimately allowed for the unlikely outcome?

    Just my 2 cents.

    At the very least, it was an interesting enough piece to make me want to post a comment.

  12. Best post I’ve read in a long time. Thanks! This totally sums up everything that’s wrong with neanderthal Canadian hockey fans – and therefore explains the state of our game. Mr. Francis is clearly the president of this sad, behind-the-times club. Your best stated evidence is that if outcomes were exactly reversed some would’ve viewed our actions as herioc and theirs as gutless. Let’s face facts. The juniors looked unprepared (coaching), easily thrown off their game plan (coaching), and unable to deal with adversity (maturity). Mr. Francis’ comments are embarrassing, inexcusable, unprofessional, and… oh yeah, fucking stupid, eh? I’d rather hear from someone about where we go from here. We got beat fair and square. Haven’t won gold in three years now. A good journalist might help us think forward. Any idiot can bitch about the past.

  13. Enjoyed the post, Francis is obviously a moron and a racist, I just had to add something about the “can’t tell another race apart line.”

    There is empirical evidence that people are not as good at telling apart people of other races, it has to do with familiarity and experience, rather than race per se, we just tend to have more experience with our own race. The name of the experiment eludes me, but I recently read a journal article where they showed infants around 6 months were equally skilled at differentiating between human faces and monkey faces. We become experts at distinguishing the race we have the most experience with, for example Korean infants adopted by white families were better at differentiating white faces compared to Korean faces once the critical period (8-12 months i think) had been reached.

    Everyone stereotypes, it’s a function of the way our brains work, by categorizing. Stereotypes have truth to them, otherwise they wouldn’t appear, but they are always over-generalized. Some people can recognize this and correct it, but Francis clearly isn’t one of them

  14. In Soviet Russia mustache and bad hair is embarrassing enough…

  15. Yikes. This was the best writer thescore could find for hockey?

  16. Good work, dude. That Francis column was a trash hatchet job. I don’t have a horse in that fight, but watched the game and thought the Francis article was nationalistic, hallucinatory garbage.

  17. “This is an article PRINTED IN AN ACTUAL NEWSPAPER, entitled ‘Russian junior star has lots of maturing to do‘ ”

    The Sun is a newspaper???

  18. I am not a fan of Francis or his writing but this article for me is just as bad. Seems to be attacking Francis for attacking sake.

  19. Great post! Need more Cam’s and less Eric Francis’ in Canadian media today.

  20. Other than Cam, who gets paid to talk about the issues, you all have WAY TO MUCH TIME ON YOUR HANDS

  21. I don’t really understand. You referenced another (Capital’s) blog at the start of the article then go on to do exactly what he did, quoting and ripping each line of the article. Why not just put a link to Japers Rink and save yourself a bunch of time.

  22. I can absolutely see where francis is coming from because in the past, as canadians we learn how to play hockey. We dont learn how to act and embellish this isnt soccer and it can make anybody wanna smash there own tv screen in watching a game where a team fully of prepubescent europeans make a mockery and a joke out of our sport. If i could publish an article about this garbage that these players bring to the sport I would too. Do you really think a player in the whl would be able to leave the rink on his feet after he rode his stick across the ice in front of another teams bench? NON SENSE!!!

  23. FYI, The kid who iced the puck late in the game against Canada in 2009 WJC was Nikita Klyukin; He sadly passed away in the Yaroslavl plane crash.

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