One of the wonderful things about hockey is its propensity to toss a real villain at you. While other sports have a player or two that certain fanbases loathe, it’s not as prevalent. In hockey, every fanbase has at least one player on another team that could very well end up with their picture in the local post office. They probably have one per team. They live on long after their playing careers are over as a fire ant stinging a part of the memory. Say “Dino” or “Burr” or “Burrows” to any Hawks fan and they’ll involuntarily spit on the ground.
Antoine Roussel certainly wants to be in that group. And he’s pretty good at getting there. It’s like a mission with him, and while the effort put in kind of ruins it, he’s going to be remembered either way. The villainy he aspires to should come naturally. You shouldn’t see the gears turning within, but with Roussel you do. He never shuts up. He’s dirty. He actually does fight people much bigger than him and holds his own. And he also occasionally pops up with an annoying goal or two to make it worse. Hockey fans won’t tell you this but pests and rapscallions that can actually play only angry up the blood more.
Roussel gets another rub in that he’s actually French. Not fake-French like David Perron or whichever other dink comes from Quebec and tries to act European to have some sort of superiority over the rest of the continent that makes them speak English anyway. But it’s easy for the French to play the villain, because it’s what we’re used to. Not that we ever have a particular beef with the French, but both sides have always acted like it. The only way Roussel could do this better was if he was British. We’re attuned to boo the French, and they’re attuned to soak it in.
Roussel is a confluence of hockey villain and French. It really couldn’t be more perfect. And he seems to know it. Which only makes it better. Hockey could use more characters.
Game #25 Preview