Hockey

Quebec politician says criticism of Canadian hockey player Comtois is 'anti-francophone racism'

Parti Québécois interim leader Pascal Bérubé used Twitter to share his feelings after Maxime 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 quarter-finals Wednesday.

Instagram users hit hard on Canadian player after missing a penalty shot in overtime

Canada's Maxime Comtois missed a penalty shot during overtime of the quarter-final IIHF world junior hockey championship in Vancouver (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

A Quebec politician says Instagram insults against Canadian world junior hockey team captain Maxime Comtois are "anti-francophone racism."

Parti Québécois Interim Leader Pascal Bérubé 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 quarter-finals Wednesday.

Below Bérubé retweets La Presse columnist Alexandre Pratt, who called out unnamed Instagram users for urging Comtois to kill himself and to get HIV:

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.

Comtois was awarded a penalty shot early in the extra period after Canadian defenceman Evan Bouchard was hooked on a breakaway. But Comtois, chosen to take the shot by Canada coach Tim Hunter under new rules this year, was turned aside on his low blocker attempt.

A few shifts later Canadian first-line centre Cody Glass feathered a cross-ice pass to defencemen Noah Dobson. The native of Summerside, P.E.I., had an open net staring at him, but his stick broke on his one-touch attempt.

The unexpected turn of events gave Finland an odd-man rush the other way. Unlike Canada's missed opportunities to close the deal, Finnish defenceman Toni Utunen, who just happens to be a Vancouver Canucks prospect, finished off Canada at his future home with a blast that deflected off the stick of Glass and over the left shoulder of goalie Michael DiPietro.

WATCH | Finland defeats Canada in overtime:

After tying the game with 46 seconds left in the 3rd, Finland scored after Canada failed to convert on 2 game-ending opportunities in overtime, knocking the hosts out of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver. 2:23

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."

Comments 'shameful and incomprehensible'

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."

Comtois said there was no hesitation in what he was going to do on the penalty shot that was stopped by Finnish goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who stretched his right pad to block the low drive.

"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.

With files from Tim Wharnsby