Thursday, October 22, 2009

NHL Francophone Conspiracy Theory

At the beginning of the week, a book written by Bob Sirois, entitled Le Québec mis en échec (Quebec Body-checked) was released, based on the dubious premise that Quebec francophone hockey players face discrimination in the NHL.

It's a theme that plays well among certain Francophone nationalists who embrace any theory that has Anglophones plotting against them. Those who believe these theories are not necessarily restricted to fringe elements. Montreal's leading Francophone sportswriter Réjean Tremblay ascribes to this idea and writes about it often. Here's a related post about it that I wrote a while back.
According to Mr. Sirois;

"Francophone Quebeckers are wrongly disparaged as too small, too lax on defence and not suited to the robust "Canadian" style of play.
Myths, prejudices, stereotypes and favouritism make up an integral part of every draft session in the National Hockey League."
Not all Quebeckers buy the theory and in the 'Comments' sections under the Internet news stories related the book, readers rejected the idea by a wide margin.
My favourite comment is this one;

"C'est du pleurnichage. (It's cry babying.)
PS:Je ne suis pas un anglais.
" (PS. I'm not English)
The use of selective statistics is an art form that Quebec nationalists have perfected better than anyone. They advance all sorts of statistics to support all manner of dubious theories.

Today language extremists promote selected statistics to 'prove' that Montreal is being anglicized and will eventually become as English as Toronto. This despite the fact that the number of Anglophones living in Montreal has remained neutral for the last three decades.

I recently read a blog piece where the writer used statistics to advance the theory that Quebec deserved more seats in Parliament than their actual population would dictate because a statistically higher percentage of Quebeckers vote. On and on.... Arggh....

Mr. Sirois provides plenty of just such faulty and selective statistics, charts, numbers, facts and figures to back up his claim that Anglophone teams in the NHL are racist and would rather have a poor team, than hire Francophones.

The idea is so absurd, one must wonder what kind of twisted mind could believe such a foolish notion. Persecution complex?

Here's a portion of a rebuttal article written in the entitled NHL bias claim draws a backlash;
"The IIHF produced numbers of its own, showing the percentage of Quebec-born players in the NHL is almost identical to the overall number of participants in the province, while Ontarians are under-represented. The IIHF also points out how easily numbers can be manipulated, arguing Washington Capitals star Ovechkin's 14.8 per cent shooting percentage ranks him 100th in the NHL – and behind three Leafs."

The controversy over the lack of francophone players has engulfed the Montreal Canadiens with writers like Réjean Tremblay boldly accusing Bob Gainey of deliberately purging the team of Francophones.

I can imagine the scenario.
Bob Gainey sitting in his office with his two Quebec based scouts Michel Boucher and Denis Morel telling him excitedly about an incredible prospect from Lac-St.Jean.
  • Morel: "We need to draft him boss, he's incredible!"
  • Gainey: " Mmmm. No thanks boys, I think we'll pass."
  • Morel "Whaaat!! Why???"
  • Gainey: " We don't need no stinkin' Francophones on our team!!"
  • Morel: "But that isn't fair and it makes no sense!!!"
  • Gainey " We don't need a good team, we need an English team"
  • Morel: "I don't understand.."
  • Gainey " It's up to Anglos like me to preserve the English domination of the world. You wouldn't understand. It's about more than just hockey!!"
The "Savard" Doctrine
Mr. Sirois and many other francophone writers (including Réjean Tremblay) and commentators have advanced the 'Savard Doctrine,' the practice perfected by the ex-General Manager of the Habs, Serge Savard, that holds that when given a choice between two players of equal talent, the team should select the Francophone.

It seems to make sense, the team becomes a more attractive product for fans and yet preserves it's competitiveness. Perfect! Everybody is happy!

But wait a minute!
Let's consider the implications. If the Montreal Canadiens are encouraged to follow the 'Savard doctrine', should other teams do the same?
Should American teams hire Americans before Canadians, Europeans or Francophones? Should Canadian teams give priority to Anglophone players over Francophones, Americans and Europeans?

If all the teams practice what Mr. Sirois suggests, it doesn't auger well for Francophone players, considering 29 out of 30 teams are base in Anglophone cities. Hmmmmm.

So it comes down to this;
Mr. Sirois complains that Anglophone teams unfairly show favouritism towards Anglophones, but encourages the Montreal Canadiens to show favouritism towards Francophones.

When Francophones show favouritism towards Francophones, it's not discrimination.
When Anglophones show favouritism towards Anglophones, it is discrimination.

It all makes perfect sense... if you live in Quebec..

    1 comment:

    1. Thank you for putting an effort to published this article. You've done a great job! Good bless!