Well, this was awkward. And unfortunate. And ironic as all get out.
While presenting the Lady Byng Trophy, which is presented annually to the best NHL player who also shows sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct, Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne decided to compliment his co-presenter, Olympic gymnastic gold medalist Aly Raisman.
“Look at those legs!” he said as the two stepped up to make the presentation at the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas.
Raisman was good-humored about the whole thing and maybe it was scripted because she did refer to him as “old” — he’s 65 — with which he jokingly took issue.
Still, whether scripted or ad-libbed, it was an off-key comment because Raisman, a three-time gold medalist who flaunted her physique in ESPN’s 2015 Body Issue, has used her platform to fight body shaming against women and girls. “Instead of being insecure about my muscles, I’ve learned to love them,” she told ESPN The Magazine two years ago. “I don’t even think of it as a flaw anymore because it’s made me into the athlete that I am.”
Last month, she shared the story of an airport security worker who had questioned whether she was muscular enough to be a gymnast. “I work very hard to be healthy and fit,” she tweeted. “The fact that a man thinks he judge my arms [ticks] me off. I am so sick of this judgmental generation. If you are a man who can’t compliment a girl’s [arm muscles], you are sexist. Get over yourself. Are you kidding me? It’s 2017. When will this change?”
Dionne is played for 18 seasons in the NHL. Lady Byng was the wife of Viscount Byng, governor general of Canada from 1921-26 and a World War I hero. Lady Byng was a big hockey fan and donated the trophy to the league in 1925.
Ms. Byng probably would have tut-tutted this whole exchange.