Love to Learn, Learn to Love.

JuicyLesson 190: Ya Pays Your Money and Ya Takes Yer Chances … Jack Todd’s Take on Michel Therrien … Celine Cooper’s “Gazette” Piece on the Changing Face of Nationalism in Quebec …

Today’s music video features Blues master John Lee Hooker with “One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer”. Enjoy a little background blues while reading over this JuicyLesson. P.S. Read both articles with the music playing. See if you are able to finish the second article at the same time that the music concludes.

Before we hit today’s Juice, allow me to present the following blast from the not so distant past avec un gross merci to Pauline and PFK [KFC en anglais]


Jack Todd’s take on the Canadiens:
In overtime of the 82nd and final game of the season, a long season made even longer by the Olympic break, Brian Gionta scored on a penalty shot to beat Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers 1-0 on a night when the Blueshirts had the better of the play from start to — well, almost the finish.

I didn’t think you guys would mind seeing this pic for a second JL in a row. This particular photo is a good example of the “action shot”:

“It’s not often,” coach Michel Therrien would say after, “that your captain scores on a penalty shot in overtime to win you a game.”

No, it isn’t. Especially when that penalty shot brings you to a nice, even 100 points for the season — third overall in the Eastern Conference. If you’re looking for playoff omens, that OT penalty shot serves as well as any.

The only thing missing, as the Canadiens tossed their helmets to the crowd and handed their sweaty, game-worn jerseys to youngsters, was a 40th goal for Max Pacioretty, whose spectacular, 39-goal season is a big part of the reason the Habs finished where they did.

Carey Price did wrap up a storybook season with a 41-save shutout, leaving him only a significant playoff run or two from the day when his No. 31 goes to the rafters at the Bell Centre.

When it was over, there was nothing to do but wait for the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s tussle between Tampa Bay and Washington. The Bolts won home ice with a 1-0 shootout victory over an inert Capitals bunch Sunday afternoon, so it’s Florida — here we come.

But why is it, when it comes to the coach of a successful team, that the whingeing is general and the applause rather muted?

In two seasons under Series 2 Michel Therrien, the Canadiens are a combined 75-42-13 and they have finished second and fourth overall in the Eastern Conference. This season, they are far and away the best of all the Canadian teams in the league and (for the first time since 1973, when they won it all) they are the only Canadian squad to make the playoffs.

In a sane world, Therrien would be the toast of the town. But there’s a culture of negative nitpicking on social media, where the big picture is a close-up of Douglas Murray’s left skate. Much of the hate for Therrien, sadly, is coming from the fancy-stats crowd and a few know-it-all media types who see the game in one-dimensional terms and don’t grasp the role that intimidation plays in every sport.

There is a place for analytics in the game and that place will expand rapidly. But statistics are a tool, not the Holy Grail. No matter how good your stats department is, it won’t make up for a guy like Murray, who can lay a wallop that will leave a guy’s head in Chicoutimi and his skates in Chibougamau.

Fortunately, the fans, media and self-proclaimed analysts didn’t hire Therrien and they can’t fire him. GM Marc Bergevin (who has himself done a superb, almost flawless job in his two seasons at the helm) will surely offer Therrien a much-deserved extension this summer, because Therrien’s current deal terminates in the spring of 2015.

Look at it this way: You could be in any of the other six Canadian cities, and you would have something genuine to complain about. You could be embarrassed by the hot-tempered John Tortorella or that not-ready-for-prime-time clown Dallas Eakins. You might have watched the Maple Leafs lose 12 of their last 15 games in one of the epic collapses in the history of the game.

Instead, Montreal fans get to cheer for a team that had the playoffs made with two weeks to spare. Whether you like the way Therrien goes about it or not, a coach’s job is to win games. So stop the whining and cue the applause.


Now for something a little different from Celine Cooper of the Gazette who writes on what she calls the changing face of Quebec nationalism:

Way back in February 2012, I attended a conference called The Quebec Question for the Next Generation. It was hosted by the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto, in co-operation with the Université du Québec à Montréal.

The conference was held shortly after the 2011 federal election in which the New Democratic Party swept Quebec, reducing the Bloc Québécois to a rump of four seats. The Quebec Liberal Party had been in power at the provincial level since 2003. At the time, the Canadian media was declaring a post-mortem on the Quebec nationalist movement.

It was against this backdrop that University of Toronto Chancellor David Peterson, a former Ontario premier, made the following statement in his keynote address, one that I had the wherewithal to write down verbatim: “Everyone says everything is calm now, so why worry? But a country is never static. Separatism is dormant, but it’s not dead and never will be. This debate could flare up at any time.”

Truer words were never spoken.

About a month later, Quebec would be plunged into one of the most tumultuous social and political uprisings seen in more than 40 years. The Maple Spring swept through the province, Jean Charest’s Liberals were turfed out and Pauline Marois’s Parti Québécois was ushered into the National Assembly as a minority government.

Suddenly, the national question, sovereignty and even a possible third referendum were back on the front burner. Canadians outside the province were left scratching their heads. But very few Quebecers were surprised by this at all.

The impulse to herald the death of Quebec nationalism whenever a sovereignist party like the PQ or the Bloc suffers a massive blow like the one we saw last week is understandable. But anyone who lives here will tell you it’s just not true; Quebec nationalism is part of the broader Canadian political dynamic, and has been for many years. It is not going anywhere, and we shouldn’t expect it to.

Yet a country — as Peterson said that day — is never static. I couldn’t agree more.

After its drubbing at the polls in 2007, the PQ’s strategy for rebuilding the party was to position itself as the guardian of cultural survival for the francophone majority. To do this, party strategists looked to the past, instead of the future, for inspiration.

But the problem with the PQ’s brand of national imagery was that it abstracted Quebec not only from Canada, but also from the broader world in general — a world that is globalized, rapidly changing and hyper-interconnected. It reanimated a nationalism rooted in fear of the other, provoking a sense of having to turn inward to survive.
In the end, Quebecers didn’t buy it. Why would we?

Until tomorrow, lots of love coming your way.

Peace out.

1 Comment

  • S. Epelbaum says:

    Interesting article. My thoughts….. The PQ won the election 19 months ago only because Marois was banging pots and pans with the students and promised students she wouldn’t increase tuition fees. Sovereignty was not part of her election pitch. As a young, naive and ignorant engineering student said to me ” I will vote PQ because I don’t want to pay more tuition.” A few sentences later, he said that soon after graduating he will leave Quebec because the taxes are too high.” This was brilliant and sums up the students vote for PQ 19 months ago. As we witnessed April 7, the majority of Quebecers don’t want another referendum. As of April 8, we are all hoping the Liberal don’t disappoint us. Thanks for listening to my rant.

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