Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan filed a lawsuit against Liberal MP Denis Coderre on Tuesday, claiming the former sports minister falsely accused him of making an ethnic slur against francophones.
The lawsuit seeks reparations for damages in response to remarks Doan considers "false and defamatory" made by Coderre. Doan alleges Coderre made damaging statements that were falsely attributed to him during a game between Phoenix and Montreal last month.
Doan found himself in trouble after Coderre, an MP from the northeastern Montreal riding of Bourassa, wrote to Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson. In the letter, copies of which were released to the media, Coderre asked Nicholson to expel the Coyotes captain from Canada's Olympic team unless he formally apologized for making an alleged ethnic slur against francophones.
During the Dec. 13 contest at Montreal's Bell Centre, referee Stephane Auger assessed Doan a 10-minute misconduct penalty after concluding he verbally abused an official and made culturally insensitive comments against the referees. Both referees and both linesmen for the game were francophones.
The NHL reviewed the allegations and Colin Campbell, the league's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations, concluded that the allegation had proven to be baseless. The NHL did not take any additional disciplinary action against Doan.
Shortly after Coderre contacted Hockey Canada, Doan's lawyer sent a letter to Coderre, stating that the Coyotes forward considered his allegations to be "defamatory," and that his client would pursue legal action if no formal retraction was made within 10 days.
Doan, a native of Halkirk, Alta., has publicly denied the allegations and has always maintained that Coderre wrongfully accused him.
"Such remarks are completely incompatible with the values I espouse as both a hockey player and a proud Canadian citizen; and I reaffirm that I would never use derogatory language towards members of any community or group, including those who speak either of Canada's two official languages," Doan declared in an affidavit attached to the motion.
Doan is seeking $250,000 from Coderre, including $200,000 for moral damages and $50,000 for punitive and exemplary damages. Doan plans to donate to charity any and all damages he may be awarded.
Doan also wants Coderre to make a public retraction.
Coderre's accusation was the focus of the Dec. 23rd edition of Satellite Hotstove on Hockey Night in Canada.
"The NHL is tough on ethnic slurs ... if Mr. Coderre has any proof he should produce it. Otherwise he should just shut up," opined Globe and Mail columnist Eric Duhatschek.
"This is a politician that's grandstanding," said hockey commentator John Davidson, adding that, "a person shouldn't go stand on a platform and yell and scream about it when he doesn't even know the facts."