Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's not like the NHL tried to make an amendment to the Canadian constitution

I'm calling you out Bob Sirois.

Your new book Le Québec mis en échec (Quebec Bodychecked).

Unfortunately since the book is only available in Quebec... the
rest of Canada doesn't really have a chance to fairly weigh in on the debate he so fervently wants to spark. But i'm going to do my best.

Sirois says it's not about bashing Canada. However, how can that be when it's only available in Quebec. If he truly believed there was something that needed to be changed, the book would be available in both French and English. Reports from the publisher are saying that no English language publisher would pick up the book. For some reason I highly doubt that. It's probably more like, they didn't try at all and don't want an English version, and that's why there's no English version.

They also say there's no real audience for the subject matter outside of Quebec. With all the hooplah this book has caused i'm pretty sure there are many a hockey fan in English Canada that would like to read this book. Myself included. At this point, you have to speak French and have a very persistant desire to read this book, because you're going to have to order it from Quebec.

Anyways, basically what i'm saying is I have to rely on what media reports say are in the book.

Here we go.

Sirous, a former Montreal Canadien, points to the World Junior teams as one of his examples. Saying sometimes as few as 2 players per year were chosen.

Brent Sutter said it best.

“As far as the world junior, there’s absolutely nothing there,” says Sutter who won back-to-back golds in 2005 and 2006.

“I know from being there for two years - you took your best players that can form your best team in your nation. It didn’t matter whether they were from Vancouver or St. John’s, Newfoundland....Never, ever, once did that cross a person’s mind.”

Columbus head coach Ken Hitchcok says he doesn't get it.

“Last I looked, they’re all Canadians,” he says. “I don’t understand that thought process or that comment. I look at the teams I’ve coached. The best leader and most-complete player competitive-wise that I’ve ever coached is Guy Carbonneau. One of the best two-way players that I’ve ever seen is Simon Gagne.”

Traditionally the QMJHL has been heavy on small, fast-skating forwards, and not too heavy on defense. Which is what Sirois is saying is causing the systematic discrimination. But if you've watched the QMJHL, which I have for many many years. It's pretty much true.

Even the QMJHL commissioner, Gilles Corteau, has stated the QMJHL in the past has battled with the problem of being the weaker brother of the three Canadian CHL leagues. He says in this season (2009-10) the QMJHL has been enjoying unprecendented levels of parity because of teams that are building themselves properly. (About 4 teams from the Q have consistantly been in the national top 10 since the beginning of this season.)

The Q-league is a fast-skating, high-flying league. You don't see too many Dion Phaneufs in the Q. And although after the lockout, the NHL has opened up for a smaller, quicker player. Teams still want someone who can backcheck.

In the QMJHL your defense is usually your goaltender. Because Quebec breeds some of the most fantastic goaltenders.

So think about that for a second. Quebec tends to produce a position that is limited. You have room for 12 forwards versus only 2 goaltenders plus a reserve guy. That puts Quebec's chances down immediately.

You can parlay that into the NHL as well. 30 teams, 2 goaltenders each. 60 spots. It's also difficult to break in at goaltender, so you usually don't see 18-year-old goaltenders busting into the NHL.

And think about the top goaltenders in the league right now. Marc-Andre Fluery, Martin Broduer, Roberto Luongo, Pascal Leclaire, Jean-Sebastien Gigure...

Of the 59 goaltenders that have gotten ice time this season, 10 are from Quebec... or 16.9 per cent of all goaltenders. The REST of Canada has 18 goaltenders seeing ice time, which is 30 per cent of all goaltenders. Quebec produces more goaltenders than the entire United States.

He's also called out specific NHL clubs for not drafting Quebec-born players. So what? Some teams have scouting patterns. Chicago Blackhawks have 12 players from the WHL. Then there's a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have five QMJHL players. Including their starting goaltender and they're captain, their mixed in with quite a few Europeans. Some teams scout more in Europe. Some try to stick to CHL players, others like NCAA. It's just the way organizations run themselves.

Sirois also blames the Canadiens for not taking more Quebec-born players. Well do the Leafs have enough Ontario-born players? Earth to Sirois, it's not 1946, teams don't take hometown boys just because they're hometown boys.

You think francophone players are going to rush out to support his cause? Nope. Francois Beauchimen says he never knew a francophone player who was supposed to make it, who didn't. He said those who didn't make it... didn't put the work in.

One of the other things he points out apparently, is the whole "Shane Doan hates French people" thing. Referring to an alleged on-ice comment made by Doan. I'm pretty sure we've been through this about 8 times. And every time, the conclusion is, there's no proof that this happened.

Blois says he's just looking at the numbers. Ok well look at this number. In 2005, Hockey Canada says we had 482,483 male registered players in Canada. Of that number, 83,215 were in Quebec. That's 17.2 per cent. Now remember that number and stick with me. In that same year there were 518 Canadians in the NHL, including 91 from Quebec. So 17.6 per cent of Canadians in the NHL were from Quebec. Last time I checked, that's the same.

Someone roll out the human rights inquiry red carpet.


Numbers are a funny thing, you can crunch them and manipulate them to make it appear to prove anything you want in this case. The NHL is huge. Minor hockey systems around the world go through ups and downs. Look at the way Hockey Canada did 10 years ago. We were all up in arms because we weren't winning, because our grassroots hockey wasn't focusing on skill. Now look at the players coming out of Canada. Now Canada's biggest problem is having all their World Junior- eligable players staying in the NHL.

Scott Morrison also points out an interesting fact on his CBC blog.

"...Fact is, hockey has become a global game with more Europeans playing, which affects the number of North American players, not just Quebecers, that wind up in the NHL," says Morrison.

"Beyond that, immigration has affected the numbers playing hockey in Canada, not just Quebec, and that has an impact on the overall NHL numbers as well. In major centers especially, cities such as Toronto and Montreal, there is such great ethnic diversity that not all are involved in hockey at the grass roots level..."

This stuff really grinds my gears. Kids growing up in Quebec are no more "discriminated against" than some kid from Russia or some kid growing up in rural Saskatchewan. Seriously Quebec, you're like that whiny kid in class who gets a 99 per cent on a test and argues for the other 1 per cent.

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