Antoine Roussel is a lot like Alexandre Burrows. Like Burrows, Roussel played in the QMJHL and went undrafted. They’re both agitating wingers who like to get under the skin of their opponents with both words and deeds. While Burrows found some first-line goalscoring touch with the Sedins, roussel has been able to chip in some goals as well. They’re also both very French, though Burrows is from Quebec and Roussel is actually from France.
Unfortunately, Roussel took the Burrows comparison too far on Friday night against the San Jose Sharks, getting accused of biting an opponent while tied up in a scrum.
The infamous incident for Burrows came in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, when Patrice Bergeron accused him of biting his finger. Burrows’ defence, apart from “Nuh-uh, no I didn’t,” was that Bergeron’s finger shouldn’t have been in Burrows’ mouth in the first place.
Roussel, at least, doesn’t appear to have that excuse. At the end of the Canucks’ 4-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks, Roussel got involved in an altercation with Marc-Edouard Vlasic. In the subsequent scrum, Roussel appeared to take offence to Vlasic’s hand on his head and pretty distinctly went out of his way to bite his hand.
Vlasic made sure to mention the bite to the media post-game and allegedly showed a bite mark on his left hand. In fact, you could hear him accusing Roussel immediately after the incident in some colourful language if you listen closely to the broadcast.
It’s hard to be coy on this one: you can say “appeared to” and “allegedly” all you want, but that’s a bite in that video and Roussel is likely going to be in some serious trouble from the league. Biting is a big no-no and for good reason: mouths are disgusting and bites can lead to serious infections.
It's hard to blame Roussel too much: after all, it's a Vlasic. He just had to taste the crunch.
Roussel’s bite looks a degree worse than Burrows for a couple reasons. As mentioned, Vlasic’s hand wasn’t in Roussel’s mouth to begin with and Vlasic wasn’t wearing a glove, like Bergeron was, providing some degree of protection.
Roussel seemed pretty frustrated all game, and it’s understandable why. He took two penalties in the first period, the latter a delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass that led to the opening goal. He was already slamming his stick in frustration before the Sharks scored, so the goal could not have helped his mental state.
He also hit a goal post and took several hits, including one from behind by Brendan Dillon after (or simultaneous with) a whistle in the second period. That frustration doesn’t excuse his actions, but it might help explain them.
After the altercation, Roussel spent some time yelling at the Sharks bench, which is rarely a good look when your team is down by four goals.
It seems likely that Roussel will face a suspension and, frankly, deserves one. Don’t bite people.