A Quebec politician says Instagram insults against Canadian world junior hockey team captain Maxime Comtois are ”anti-francophone racism.”
Parti Quebecois interim leader Pascal Berube used Twitter to share his feelings after Comtois was hit hard with criticism after missing on a penalty shot during overtime in a 2-1 loss to Finland in the world junior championship quarterfinals Wednesday.
Several comments pointed out that the 19-year-old Comtois, a native of Longueuil, Que., is French.
Commenting was disabled on recent pictures overnight, but some comments still remained Thursday morning.
Instagram user @snacc_hyman wrote “The captain of the Canadian hockey team shouldn’t dive like an Italian soccer player and come up with such a pathetic attempt on an overtime penalty shot.”
After the barrage of criticism, several users posted messages of support for Comtois.
User @lordstanleypff wrote “He doesn’t deserve the hate or anything negative. He’s a junior for God’s sake. He did everything to represent HIS country.”
The Roy Sports Group, which represents Comtois, put out a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“It is shameful and incomprehensible that a few cowards who can hide behind social media could make such vicious attacks on these young men’s character after they have battled their hearts out for their country,” the statement reads.
“We will make this one and only statement on this subject, so not to validate anymore the cowardly comments made on social media. It was Maxime’s idea to use this as a learning moment for all of the youth of Canada, that cyber bullying is a real problem, and like all bullies, we all need to stand up to them and call them out for what they are. Thank you for shedding a spotlight on a major problem in our society.”
Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney said the organization trusts players’ judgment when it comes to social media.
“At the end of the day, we support how they feel about it and how they chose to depict what it is they wish to chronicle,” he said Thursday.
“There’s a method by which you can protect yourself and each other by that. At the same time, we understand this is a day and age where you can communicate quickly through social media. We just want to make sure everyone shows good judgment.”
After Wednesday night’s game, the Canadian players were given time to visit with their families before they went back to the hotel for pizza and ping pong, Renney said.
Hockey Canada did not contact law enforcement about the comments, he added.
Head coach Tim Hunter picked Comtois to take the penalty shot. Finnish goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stretched his right pad to block the low shot.
“I was thinking to score and I didn’t,” Comtois said. “I was going with my move and trying to shoot. It’s not the first one that I missed and it’s not going to be the last one. It has to hurt, but if I get one more chance later in my career, I have to be ready and dig in to get it in.
“We had a couple guys practising this type of situation in practice. I was one of them. It could have been anyone on the team. I was confident with my move and it didn’t work.”
The loss for Canada means the country will not play for a world junior medal for only the second time in 21 years.
The Canadian Press