The Prime Minister’s Hockey Promotion Committee says: Make hockey in Quebec ‘national’

A commission appointed by the Quebec government to boost Quebecers’ interest in hockey says the sport should be cheaper to play so low-income families and immigrants can more easily participate.

Marc Denis, former Canadian Montreal goalkeeper and chairman of the committee, said on Thursday that hockey should also become the “national sport” of Quebec.

He said that after seeing an outpouring of grief earlier this week during the national funeral for Canadian great Guy Lafleur, the love that Quebec players have for the game is clear.

“If we still had doubts, the past few days have proven to us how much hockey really is our national sport.”

Last November, Prime Minister Francois Legault tasked Denis with coming up with ways to increase Quebecers’ interest in hockey and increase the number of Quebec players in the NHL. Legault lamented at the time that there were fewer young people interested in hockey in the county than in previous generations.

Dennis said that while increasing the number of Quebecers in the NHL was not his main goal, the steps outlined in his report give more Quebecers a path into the major league.

“Yes, we believe that if the recommendations were implemented, there would be more Quebec players in the National Hockey League, but that was not the main objective,” he said.

“The main goal was to have more [players]That they are better supported, that they have a better environment, that they stay connected to hockey for longer, and that way we give them the best chances.”

The outpouring of emotion and sadness at the funeral of Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, No. 10, who helped the Montreal Canadians win five Stanley Cup titles in the 1970s, shows “how hockey is truly our national sport,” says former goalkeeper Mark Dennis. (Bill Costron/The Associated Press)

Sports Minister says “first step”

The minister in charge of sports in Quebec said the government would not suspend the report released on Thursday, but did not say which recommendations would be adopted.

“It’s the first step,” Isabelle Charest said. “The next step is to sit down with all partners to come up with a game plan and figure out how much those recommendations will cost, what is applicable now, and when and how.”

There was no dollar value associated with any of the recommendations. Dennis said this was not part of the commission’s mandate.

Dennis said one way the government could make the game more affordable is to provide tax credits. Doing so, he said, would make the game more accessible to new immigrants.

He said more efforts should be made to support hockey in Indigenous communities as well.

The report says promoting women’s hockey is a priority, and equitable resources should be made available to men’s and women’s hockey programs. It also calls for more women in leadership positions in the county hockey league.

The commission also recommended that Quebec create a national women’s hockey team, as well as a national team for 17-year-olds and hockey players. She called on the government to fund university hockey, establish a college hockey league and create hockey scholarships for student-athletes.

Other recommendations include adding skating lessons to the school’s gym classes, creating a registry for hockey infrastructure across the county and building more skating rinks.