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Anti-francophone discrimination?

2009 October 21
by Skip Sauer

A new book may renew debate on whether the NHL discriminates against french-speaking players. Here is some discussion from The National Post:

With the number of hockey stars that Quebec has produced, from Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur to Mario Lemieux and Vincent Lecavalier, one wouldn’t think racism was holding back players from the province.

But 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, published in French and titled Le Québec mis en échec (Quebec Bodychecked). “Myths, prejudices, stereotypes and favoritism make up an integral part of every draft session in the National Hockey League.”

…Mr. Sirois found 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. He notes that about 10% of all NHL players were completely passed over in the draft but managed to break into the league; the rate among players from Quebec, 19%, is almost twice as high. “In light of these figures, don’t even ask whether it’s true that Quebecers are under-estimated by NHL scouts,” he writes.

Those discrepancies indeed suggest that the francophone players face a higher hurdle in the NHL draft. Sirois’ book would make for interesting reading, assuming you can read French. Here is a somewhat skeptical review of the book from Hockey Book Reviews.com.

Hat tip to Wil!

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