Sunday, May 16, 2010

"The Rocket"...seeds of independence in the 1950's?

Between the Eastern Conference finals and the semi-finals, on a blank Saturday night, CBC Television re-ran the documentary film, "The Rocket" about the hockey career of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard.
In retrospect, there is a case to be made, that, given the unadulteratred prejudice of the league, and the NHL commissioner, toward Les Canadiens, that the seeds for the Quebec independence movement were planted back in 1952-3-4, when "The Rocket" used the Quebec press to lash out against the unfair judgements being made by referees and league officials against him and his hockey team.
Why, for example, had he never won the scoring title?
Why was Hal Laycoe not penalized for hitting Richard first, when Richard was suspended for the balance of the season and the play-offs for his retaliation, including the striking of a referee?
As the documentary portrayed, the ironic result of Richard's return following his suspension led to five consecutive Stanley Cup victories.
There is no doubt that the "Habs" mean more to the culture of Quebec than any other NHL team means to their respective city or region. In Quebec, hockey appears more important that religion, and the faith of the people in the tradition, reputation, honour and dignity of the winningest hockey team in history knows no bounds.
The team's stunning upset of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the 2010 play-offs, resulting mostly from the epic goal-tending of Jaroslav Halak, evokes memories of both Ken Dryden in 1971 and Patrick Roy in the 1990's.
And when the rest of Canada listens as the fans in the Bell Centre sing O Canada, none of our hearts can be still, given the history both of the team and of the province itself.

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