My deepest political thought has always been, "If Quebec separated from the rest of Canada, could they truly compete in a world class hockey tournament?"
Obviously, this is strictly hypothetical—but let's run with it.
Let's pretend that Quebec did separate from Canada, and was sending a team to represent the new country in Vancouver 2010. What would their roster look like? Would they be good enough and have the depth to compete with the other nations?
Note: All players selected are currently on NHL rosters as of July 31. No attempt was made to look at prospects born in Quebec who made develop and be candidates for 2010.
Canada's main pipeline for goaltending has come from Le Belle Province. As a matter of fact, since it was invented, hockey has always had Francophones in between the pipes. Throughout history, hockey's best goalies have been French Canadians—Jacques Plante, Bernie Parent, and "Denis Lemieux" from the movie Slapshot.
Yet for many of Canada's championships, a Francophone was not in goal. As a matter of fact, until Martin Brodeur relieved Curtis Joseph of his starting duties at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Team Canada had not relied on a French goaltender to lead the way to a gold medal.
If we start from the goaltender out. I think it's safe to say Team Quebec would be in good hands with Roberto Luongo (VAN), Martin Brodeur (NJ) and Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT). There are a couple of others that could fight for that third spot, like Jose Theodore (WAS), Pascal LeClaire (CBJ), and Mathieu Garon (EDM).
Certainly that would qualify as world-class goaltending.
Goaltending Grade: A
The defensive unit would more than likely consist of Francois Beauchemin (Ana), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (SJS), Philippe Boucher ( DAL), Kris Letang (PIT), Stephane Robidas (DAL), Marc-Andre Bergeron (ANA), Denis Gauthier (LA), and Alexandre Picard (TB)
The eight players listed above certainly would not be classified as a world-class defensive unit.
Defense Grade: C-
Offensive flair as always been a trademark of most French Canadians that reach the NHL—"Rocket" Richard, Jean Beliveau, Guy LaFleur, and Gilbert Perreault, just to name a few. Listed below are the 13 forwards that would hope to light the lamp for Team Quebec.
Centermen: Vinny LeCavalier (TB), Mike Ribeiro (DAL), Danny Briere (PHI), and Matthew Lombardi (CGY). Consideration to Maxime Talbot (PIT) his grit and strong defensive game could earn him a spot ahead of Lombardi.
Vinny and Danny would carry the bulk of offensive pressure down the middle. Ribeiro would be a nice complimentary centre and chip in offensively, but I do not think he and Lombardi would bring enough to the table in a world-class hockey tournament.
Centers Grade: B+
Wingers: Pierre-Marc Bouchard (MIN), Martin St. Louis (TB), Simon Gagne (PHI), Antoine Vermette (OTT), Alex Tanguay (MTL), Alex Burrows (VAN), Pascal Dupuis (PIT) , J.P. Dumont (NAS), Steve Bernier (VAN), Guillaume Latendresse (MTL), Martin Lapointe (OTT), Mathieu Dandenault (MTL), Consideration to David Perron (STL) who fared very nicely as a 19-year-old with the Blues in 2007-08.
There are a few natural scorers in the group, lke Gagne, St. Louis, Tanguay, and Dumont. Players like Burrows, Vermette, and Dupuis are tough guys to play against, and would help make life difficult for the opposition. So I think Team Quebec would fare well along the wings.
However, they probably wouldn't have the depth to compete with Canada, Russia, and Sweden.
Wingers Grade: B
Team Quebec would have the goaltending to keep them in most games. The defensive unit would have to play well above their capabilities to truly give Quebec any chance to win the close ones.
Up front, Quebec would have five truly world class players they could rely on to pull them through. However, much like the defensive unit, the majority of the forwards would have to overachieve to give Team Quebec any chance of winning a medal at the 2010 Olympics.
Overall grade: B
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