CBC Sports

Post-season puck power

Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | 10:53 PM

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Power and politics. It pales to the popular Canadian consensus of the hockey puck.

Witness the leaders' debate on the eve of the annual Stanley Cup pilgrimage. The party kingpins were shown getting off buses, out of limousines, jauntily waving to the crowd on the arena threshold in the winter nation's capital.

It looked a lot like the Canucks or the Hawks, on their way into the rink moments before a much-anticipated playoff rivalry. They had a photo op, shook hands, just like the hockey gods do before a big international match.
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Game 1 of the Montreal-Boston series was slated to begin right in the middle of the French language leaders' debate, before the debate was rescheduled to accommodate the game. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Power and politics. It pales to the popular Canadian consensus of the hockey puck.

Witness the leaders' debate on the eve of the annual Stanley Cup pilgrimage. The party kingpins were shown getting off buses, out of limousines, jauntily waving to the crowd on the arena threshold in the winter nation's capital.

It looked a lot like the Canucks or the Hawks, on their way into the rink moments before a much-anticipated playoff rivalry. They had a photo op, shook hands, just like the hockey gods do before a big international match.

Heck, the show cobbled together around the buildup to the gabfest was even called "Countdown to Debate."  

Sound familiar?

The pundits who analyzed the confrontation prior to the festive faceoff spoke of someone trying to land a "knockout blow." Or that maybe Prime Minister Stephen Harper might be "...the target of a power play and end up a punching bag for the other three."

The sport analogies were flying around like Guy Lafleur when the mighty Habs took on Don Cherry's battling Bruins.

Speaking of which, the party leaders knew they were overmatched in Quebec, and moved the French language debate to avoid a conflict with Game 1 of the Boston-Montreal series.  

You've got to give the politicians credit for pragmatism on that one.

"We all know hockey is very popular in Canada and also in Quebec," granted Gilles Duceppe, the leader of the Bloc Québécois.

"I think it would be a better choice to have that debate on Wednesday, so that people who like hockey will have the full opportunity to see the debate and then listen to the hockey game on Thursday night," he continued.

Translation: everyone with a TV!

It's like Roch Carrier, one of French Canada's most popular writers. said of life in Quebec in his timeless story The Hockey Sweater.

"We lived in three places -- the school, the church and the skating rink -- but our real life was on the skating rink," wrote Carrier. "The real leaders showed themselves on the skating rink."

When it comes to the post-season and a concurrent election campaign in Canada. that axiom still holds water. Watch how many of the party leaders show up to shake a few paws whenever the Canadiens or Canucks hit the ice at home in Montreal or Vancouver.

Good politics in this country means getting close to the power of the puck.


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