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We here at French Immersion hold an unshakeable commitment to preparing our young acolytes for the day when this vast empire will be theirs.

Oh yes, faithful reader, we are firmly committed to developing their talent for cooking up derivative semi-witticisms (the professional development plan: compulsory readings from VIZ, the Guardian's football Fiver, old issues of Frank Magazine, and ESPN.com's TMQ - think we qualify for federal job training funds?)

Would that the Montreal Canadiens spent as much time with their young 'uns, lovingly developing their hockey skills from the time they were drafted, inculcating impeccable work habits and preparing them for life under the klieg lights - like, say the Reddish Winged Wheels of Motown are known to do.

Instead, the 10 members of the Habs' 24-and-under set (Andrei Kostitsyn, Matt D'Agostini, Max Pacioretty, Guillaume Latendresse, Max Lapierre, Kyle Chipchura, Gregory Stewart, Mathieu Carle, Ryan White and Tom Pyatt) have a total of six goals between them and are a combined minus-32. Yeesh.

And youngsters Carey Price and Jaro Halak are 28th and 29th in the NHL in save percentage and 36th and 19th in goals against. Double Yeesh.

Last week, rookie defenceman Carle alluded to learning more in a month under coaching phenom Guy Boucher in Hamilton than he did in his previous two years with the Dogs.

That's not to hack on former Hamilton coach Don Lever, who left the organization's employ this summer.

But it seems to us that maybe the Calder Cup triumph of a couple of years ago papered over some significant cracks down on the farm. Like the fact all the prospects have essentially plateaued.

And given the Habs won the conference championship the following year, Bob Gainey can be forgiven for thinking he had a decent hockey team and stacked minor-league larder on his hands - two years ago the master plan looked supremely cunning.

Today? Not so much.

We weep for the youth, after all there's nothing as sad as unfulfilled promise (Newcastle's relegation from the Premiership notwithstanding).

In fact, the depressing state of "la relève" is emerging as a broader problem in Quebec.

Look at the media, for instance.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then academics Jean-Michel De Waele and Alexandre Husting must be positively a-quiver at the uncanny mimicry of CKAC noon-hour shouter Jean-Charles Lajoie. Turns out he lifted their analysis of the fall of the Berlin Wall word for word in a recent commentary (if you read French you can find a good column on the controversy here. Cue the non-apology apologies.

Why a self-professed hockey expert would natter on about politics is another question entirely. (What's that about hypocrisy? Sorry, couldn't make out what you were saying just now. You really shouldn't mumble.)

If Lajoie was once part of an overhaul to rejuvenate the station - he won a contest to become a host a few years back; see? Anyone can do it! - it's a depressing prospect to consider him the fastest colt in the stable.

To say nothing of politics.

And take our old friend Jacques Parizeau, who launched a new book this morning on the more-pressing-than-ever need for Quebec sovereignty or somesuch piffle. Monsieur is still the best the sovereignists have got, and he's 79.

Or Montreal Mayor Gérald Tremblay, the Scandal-Ridden One, who has such a dearth of fresh-faced city council-y talent that he's reportedly planning on calling his own number as head of the all-powerful city executive committee. Now that's change you can believe in.

Happily the situation is somewhat sunnier in other facets of the sports scene around these parts.

The Alouettes are bringing along a steady stream of bright young footballing things (some of 'em are even Canadian!), and our heroes in the national short-track skating program are making their triumphant return from a World Cup event in Marquette, Mich., where 19-year-old rookie Marianne St-Gelais - a former world junior champ who has been brought along slowly in a bid to accrues some international experience before the Olympics - won a bronze medal.

There's probably a lesson in there somewhere. Just don't ask us what it is.

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