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The Globe and Mail

Habs dismiss PQ complaint that they're a Canadian propaganda tool

Geoff Molson, owner of the Montreal Canadiens, in Montreal, December 17, 2009.

Christinne Muschi/christinne muschi

The owner of the Montreal Canadiens has defended his team against accusations that it's a pro-Canada political tool.

Geoff Molson was asked Thursday about remarks made by the Parti Quebecois in recent days.

He called it a funny question and said it wasn't something he wanted to respond to. But Molson then offered a curt dismissal of the accusation.

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"We are in the hockey business and not into politics," Molson said.

"I can tell you we don't talk about politics in the dressing room."

Quebec's official Opposition leader, Pauline Marois, said this week that the Habs have become a promotional tool for Canadian federalism.

She said she wished the team had more francophone stars she could cheer for. One of her PQ caucus members went even farther: Pierre Curzi said recently that the Habs are actively plotting against Quebec separatism - and that the exclusion of French-speaking players was part of that plot.

In making that argument, the PQ was picking up on a common complaint in recent years that the legendary team - once dubbed the Flying Frenchmen - has almost no French-speaking players anymore.

Curzi's comments earned him ridicule in Anglo media and a mixed response within Quebec.

Many commenters over the years have urged the Habs to be mindful of their role as a local cultural institution; they bristled, for instance, at the fact that former captain Saku Koivu never bothered to learn French.

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But when language controversies occasionally flare up around the team, other fans react in frustration and say they wish people could keep their politics and their hockey separate.

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