October 19, 2009

Le Québec mis en échec by Bob Sirois

This is Bob Sirois. The proud native of Montreal played 286 games in the NHL in the 1970s, primarily with lowly Washington. He scored 92 goals and 212 points. In his only two full NHL seasons he challenged the 30 goal mark, scoring 24 and 29 in back to back seasons. He was a great skater with a good shot, but an injuries really prevented him from becoming a full time NHL player.

Sirois has written a book (written in French and only available in Quebec) called Le Québec mis en échec (Quebec Bodychecked). He asserts his belief that Francophone hockey players are discriminated against at hockey's highest levels.

Buy The Book - Amazon.ca - Chapters

Graeme Hamilton of the National Post talked to Sirois about the book.

"A book published Monday by former National Hockey League player Bob Sirois, examining four decades of professional drafts, comes to the explosive conclusion that francophone Quebecers are systematically thwarted by an "anti-francophone virus" plaguing the NHL.

Francophone Quebecers are wrongly disparaged as too small, too lax on defence and not suited to the robust "Canadian" style of play, Mr. Sirois writes in the book. "Myths, prejudices, stereotypes and favoritism make up an integral part of every draft session in the National Hockey League."

The book contains highly detailed with charts detailing the fate of every Quebecer drafted by NHL teams over the past 40 years. The author's findings are that proportionate to their share of the population francophone Quebecers were less likely to get drafted than anglophone Quebecers and Francophones were generally selected lower in the draft.

I agree that there is a general reputation of the QMJHL that they produce highly skilled but often soft and one way players. Why is that? Hamilton's article does not really talk about it, and I can only assume the author does as I have not read this book.

What Hamilton does highlight is Sirois' high criticism of the Montreal Canadiens for employing so few Francophone players in recent. He suggests two solutions are to return the NHL to Quebec City and to ice an all Quebec team in international tournaments such as the World Junior Championships.

Sirois is a proud Quebecer and very successful businessman nowadays. I have no idea of his political views, but the solutions offered sound politically motivated, as we've seen in the past from Quebec.

I have not seen the book, but I hope Sirois offers a more in depth look at systemic issues in Quebec minor and junior hockey as well. What can the QMJHL do to improve? Perhaps various levels of government should be better investing in Quebec youth hockey in terms of facilities and coaching? Do population trends factor into this equation?

Cries of NHL racism are far too convenient for the sovereigntists in Quebec. As too are cries against Hockey Canada for discriminating against Quebecers at the World Juniors (and I guarantee you'll hear more of the same when the Olympic team is announced later this year). Quebec does represent itself at the U17 World Championships, and have won three times since 1986, and only once since 1995. Would competing at the U20s produce better results? Not without serious systemic remedies.

There seems to be some expectation that the Montreal Canadiens must have some level of Quebec grown content. It would be great if they did, but there should be no such expectation. Winning should be the expectation, regardless of where the players come from.

The Canadiens lack of success in recent has more to do with interest in hockey in Quebec and the resulting production of future players. The kids will come out in droves if Les Habitants are winning, regardless if the star player is from Turku, Togliatti or Trois Rivieres.


Unknown November 1, 2009 at 10:17 PM  

I do not totally agree here. Yes if the team wins the people will come to see it play. However a team with a french star leading is more likely
to be given room to mature then just a team. Case in point is how a player of Saku Koivi's talent is look at as not worth being looked up to just because he would not learn french or stay in Montreal when the season is over.

silentD October 26, 2010 at 10:26 AM  

What a bunch of B.S.! Just another Quebecois whining about how unfair the world is to the French. The french are a respected and integral part of our country and they have plenty of opportunities... just as much as a kid from Manitoba. It's these guys who whine and want EVEN MORE special privileges that give the rest of Canada a sour taste in their mouth when it comes to Quebec. A taste that isn't deserved by the majority of Quebec.

GD,  December 20, 2010 at 5:38 PM  

Message to all the commentators : Have you read this book, wich is very well researched and argued ? Of course not..

Maybe you should go after the author's arguments rather than his person ?

This is called over-generalization, a close cousin of racism ..

Again, I invite you to read his book ... oh sorry, you do not read French!

Don't worry, an English translation is coming...

Happy reading!

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