It’s a hockey loving Quebec separatist’s dream come true: Hockey Canada gives the ‘all-clear’ to Hockey Quebec to create a provincial team that will host a tournament next year in Quebec City.
Why is that news?
Well, it’s being framed by a lot of media outlets as some kind of huge move that will shift the way international hockey is run in Canada – an all-Quebecois team competing on the international stage for the first time, without those English-speaking people there to ruin it for everyone.
The proposed Quebec Cup, The Canadian Press reports, will pit Team Quebec against France, Italy and Switzerland. Team Quebec, in theory, will be made up of French-Canadian NHLers with players from other leagues across the continent and over in Europe rounding out the roster.
So let’s get this straight:
Hockey Quebec wants to put all of the best French NHL players onto one team for a tournament where they’ll face the eighth, fifteenth and sixteenth best teams in the world? No offence to those other teams (here comes the insult that usually follows a ‘no offence’), but I don’t think the IIHF rankings really do justice to how far from the top they are.
The rankings go Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden, US, Czech Republic, Slovakia and then 41 teams you’d fire your coach for losing to, while lamenting the failure of your country’s grass-roots system.
The governing body for hockey in that province says it’s not trying to make a political statement, but plenty of politicians are chiming in about what a proud moment it is for them and what this could mean for Quebec’s independence. I don’t buy it though – to me, that’s just a provincial team playing against some low-end international talent.
That said I do really like one aspect of this story.
I’ve always thought it would be so awesome if each province put a team together and battled for national dominance in some kind of tournament. Obviously Ontario would be the team to beat, because it seems like everyone is from there; Quebec would have solid goaltending, but the rest of the team would be no match for the gritty Alberta style of play. Without going through and looking closely at who is from where, I’d guess that BC would be decent, Saskatchewan might have to team up with Manitoba and the Maritimes might be the sleeper.
I hope this Team Quebec stuff steers us in that direction!
Back to the main point of this post though – I think Quebec should try entering a real international tournament before they start talking about what a huge thing this is for their independence. Further to that point, I wonder how many of Quebec’s top players would want to leave Team Canada to play for Team Quebec if they had to choose?
In the mean time, I’ve gone through the rosters and tried to figure out what Team Quebec might look like. I probably missed some guys, but have a look:
Simon Gagne / Vincent Lecavalier / Martin St. Louis
Patrice Bergeron / Danny Briere / Mike Ribeiro
Jason Pominville / Antoine Vermette / JP Dumont
Alex Tanguay / Alex Burrows / David Perron
Stephane Robidas / Francois Beauchemin
Kris Letang / Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Alexandre Picard / Bruno Gervais