Hockey Canada chief Bob Nicholson told a Commons committee a racial slur was uttered during a 2005 NHL game but he said it was not Doan who uttered it.
“We’re taking Shane Doan, his wife, his mom and dad, his four kids through an allegation that could have been dictated by someone else,” Nicholson told the House of Commons’ official languages committee.
“This is not right.”
In an emotional defence, Nicholson told MPs from all major parties that Doan has represented the country eight times. He said his organization is “100 per cent behind” the selection of the Phoenix Coyotes forward as captain.
Members of all political parties want to know why Doan was chosen captain in the face of accusations that it was he who uttered the slur at a French-Canadian linesman.
Doan has repeatedly denied a linesman’s claim that during a 2005 Phoenix-Montreal game he sarcastically spouted the words, “F-g Frenchman – did a good job,” at him.
An emotional Nicholson told the MPs he’s known Doan for years and he said the player does not deserve the treatment he has received from federal politicians.
“There is no question those words were said on the ice,” said Nicholson. “The National Hockey League’s investigation clearly shows that that was stated, but it also clearly shows that they felt that it wasn’t Shane Doan.
“That is why we are here today – to protect Shane Doan.”
Rene Marcil of Hockey Canada said French Canada is well-represented in the organization and he said the controversy surrounding Doan’s appointment has been an unnecessary distraction to the national hockey team.
Doan explained Wednesday that he was actually trying to calm down a furious teammate, goalie Curtis Joseph, who felt that four French-Canadian officials refereeing the game had blown a penalty call.
He said he told his goalie: “Four French referees in Montreal, Cuje, figure it out.”
The league sided with Doan in a post-game investigation and the matter was considered closed. It was reopened on Parliament Hill once Doan’s selection as captain prompted the controversy to re-erupt in Quebec.
All parties are eager to gain support in that crucial electoral battleground, where Doan has been vilified.
The linesman involved in the controversy adamantly insisted in a recent sworn court statement that he heard the slur, and Quebec hockey commentators have cited the Doan controversy as evidence of rampant racism in the NHL against francophones.