NHL player Shane Doan, accused by politicians of making culturally insensitive remarksduring a 2005 game,revealed Wednesdayexactly what he said as a parliamentary committeeprepares to examine why he was named captain ofCanada's international hockey team.
Doan said he was complaining toteammate Curtis Joseph about the officiating, telling the goaltender, "'Four French referees in Montreal, Cuje, figure it out.'
"I would have done the same thing if we were in Los Angeles and it was four officials from California," Doan said Wednesday. "Or if we were in Calgary and it was four westerners."
At the same time, two French-Canadian NHLers came to his defence, saying insults were part of the game.
"In the heat of the battle things get said sometimes, a lot worse than being called a French frog or whatever," said Alain Vigneault, coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
"[Doan] says he didn't say it. Even if he did, come on. If our politicians, French or English, if that's the only thing right now they have to worry about....
"There's a lot more important things going on right now in society," Vigneault said. "It is utterly, utterly stupid, not to say embarrassing."
Goalie backs Doan
New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur had a similar reaction.
"I know Shane really [well] and I don't see him saying that," he said. "All these years in the league I never had a problem with it, so for me to hear that other people had a problem, I have a hard time understanding it."
Earlier this week, the Bloc Québécois demandedDoan's removalas captain, and all parties supported a motion that will have Hockey Canada officials explaining the choice before a parliamentary committee Thursday.
Doan, a right-winger for the Phoenix Coyotes, was accused of making disparaging comments about French-Canadians during the 2005 NHL game in Montreal.
Doan denied the accusations, and the league cleared him of any wrongdoing.
Doan and his teammates defeated Slovakia on Wednesday inRussia to remain unbeaten after three games at the world men's hockey championship.
Colin Campbell, the NHL's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, blasted the politicians for meddling, calling theintrusion "ridiculous.
"I stand by my original comments after our investigation," Campbell told the Canadian Press. "But I would add to it at this point in time, it's rather embarrassing to all Canadian hockey fans we're rehashing this again, particularly when Hockey Canada and Shane Doan are representing and working hard in Moscow right now, competing for our country. It's ridiculous."
The Bloc introduced the motion, supported by the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP,demanding that Hockey Canada explain itself tothe parliamentary committee.
"They're receiving money from Sports Canada. It's taxpayers' money, so they will have to have some answers," Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said Monday.
Officials from Hockey Canada, which oversees Team Canada and receives federal funding, will appear before the House of Commons committee of official languages, as will Sports Canada officials.
Liberal MP Ken Dryden, who won six Stanley Cups as a goalie for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s, said Hockey Canada officials were withintheir rights to choose whomever they wanted for captain.
'A decision for Hockey Canada'
"Their decision is one the government and the public can react to, but it is their decision to make," Dryden told CBC News Wednesday.
"It's a decision for Hockey Canada to make and to live with the consequences.… If Hockey Canada gets it wrong, the government can restrict funding later on."
NDP Leader Jack Layton said Hockey Canada could have weighed its decision more carefully.
"I think there could have been a wiser choice so we could have avoided the controversy, because it's taking away from the enthusiasm everyone wants to have [about the world championship]."
Doan, interviewed Tuesday in Moscow, said he's upset to be at the heart of a parliamentary debate.
"I can't stress how disappointed I am in the leaders of Parliament, [that they] would be even considering talking about this," he told TSN.
Legal clash with MP
Doan, an Alberta native,was handed a 10-minute misconduct penalty duringthe game on Dec. 13, 2005.
Referee Stéphane Auger said Doan verbally abused an official and made culturally insensitive comments against the referees, who were French-Canadians.
"We have a protocol in these situations that we stand by," Campbell said. "And we use it in every situation where we have accusations regarding slurs or whatever it may be. For some of these politicians to get involved, I would have to think they've got other things pending and they should stay out of our business."
In the weeks following the game, Liberal MP Denis Coderre demanded Doan be excluded from Canada's hockey team at the February 2006 Olympics in Turin.
Doan, who remained on the Olympic roster, launched a lawsuit against Coderre in 2006 for $250,000, claiming Coderre had falsely accused him of making ethnic slurs.
Coderre responded last month with a countersuit for defamation, seeking $45,000 in damages.
Both suits remain before the courts.