Some Montreal Canadiens players say they're shocked by comments made online by Heritage and Official Languages Minister James Moore favouring the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"The Canucks are Canada's team in these playoffs," Moore wrote in a tweet over the weekend. "Plus, they're wearing those handsome Canadian Alliance-esque blue/green jerseys."
The Canucks and the Habs are the only remaining Canadian teams in the NHL post-season after the Ottawa Senators were knocked out in the first round. The Canadiens are tied 1-1 in their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the Canucks are up 1-0 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Canucks or Habs: Who's 'Canada's team'?
Habs not happy
"That shocks me," said Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri.
Cammalleri told reporters it was clearly the Habs that owned the title of "Canada's team." He cited a 2009 survey in which one-third of respondents said the Canadiens were Canada's team — the highest response for any team in Canada.
"Stats don't lie, do they?" Cammalleri said with a smile.
Josh Gorges, a Canadiens fan who hails from Kelowna, B.C., also took issue with Moore's remarks.
"I think if you asked anyone, the majority of people around Canada, they're still going to say that they're Habs fans," he said.
"I'm from near Vancouver, and I know way more people who say they're Canadiens fans than Canucks fans.
"It's amazing. Everywhere you go, there's a following for the Canadiens, and that just shows the tradition this team has and the respect that I think this organization rightfully deserves."
Moore plays defence
Moore was also taking some political heat from the likes of Justin Trudeau. In response to the heritage minister's comments, the Montreal MP tweeted, "You don't have to like the Habs, but you could show a little more respect".
In Ottawa, Moore told reporters it's "obvious" he's going to cheer for the Canucks because he's from Vancouver.
"Lighten up a bit ... it's hockey," he said.
NDP Leader Jack Layton had a different take on the situation, saying Canada's team is the national team that won gold at the Vancouver Olympics.