Separa-test

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Oh sure, another good showing by separatist leader Gilles Duceppe's Bloc party in next month's federal election will continue to stoke the fires of the sovereignist movement in Quebec, which remains determined to drive a massive stake through our nation's heart.

But what most Canadians really want to know is this:

How would it affect Team Canada's Olympic hockey team in Turin, Italy, and beyond?

As the election nears, I think we can all agree that's what matters most.

Truth is, outside the crease, it wouldn't matter much at all.

Obviously not a hockey fan, Duceppe unveiled the Bloc's election platform yesterday, which includes a call for hockey and soccer athletes born in Quebec to compete internationally under their provincial flag.

Like most Bloc policies, it wasn't a very well thought-out stance as Duceppe's suggestion would leave Team Quebecois battling it out with countries like Belarus, Germany and Liechtenstein just to get into the Olympic hockey tourney.

Oh sure, Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Jose Theodore would provide a solid base on which to build the French forces.

But the pickings are slim after that.

The only French defenceman on Wayne Gretzky's 81-man Olympic hopeful list is 36-year-old Eric Desjardins -- a slow, fragile shadow of his former self.

Coach Claude Julien would be looking at adding rearguards such as Marc-Andre Bergeron, Mathieu Dandenault and even former Flame Denis Gauthier into the five-ring circus before adding aging Patrice Brisebois, Philippe Boucher and budding Stephane Robidas to the team.

So weak is this bunch, some would suggest co-Quebec GMs Kevin Lowe and Serge Savard might need to suit up themselves.

Unfortunately for Francophone factions, players such as John-Michael Liles, Francis Bouillon, Greg de Vries and Adrian Aucoin would not be added because, well, they only sound French.

The defection of Simon Gagne, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Mario Lemieux and Alex Tanguay would obviously hurt the Canadian squad while helping Squad de Sovereign.

However, depth in La Belle Province would be as big an issue as poutine-induced heart attacks.

While young Patrice Bergeron would likely fill out the second line, the third line could include the likes of Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Ian Laperriere and Daniel Briere.

The fourth line -- dubbed Les Grand-peres -- could see Pierre Turgeon centring Luc Robitaille and Martin Gelinas. As dangerous as it is intimidating.

The Montreal papers would be rife with controversy as locals hotly debated late cuts to Mike Ribeiro, Marc Chouinard, Alexandre Daigle and Steve Begin.

As for Team Canada, well, they'd still be stacked.

Veterans Curtis Joseph, Marty Turco and Ed Belfour form a formidable Turin trio, although many questions would be asked about 2010 in Vancouver where an Olympic rookie would have to start in lieu of the departed Luongo.

On defence, Wade Redden would be added to the Salt Lake City crew while the decisions up front become a tad easier with the French departures.

Red-hot Olympic newcomers Eric Staal, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Sidney Crosby, Brad Richards, Shane Doan, Glen Murray and Joe Thornton more than replace the veteran defectors while mainstays Jarome Iginla, Joe Sakic, Paul Kariya and Ryan Smyth add leadership and scoring up front.

Olympic gold could easily be Canada's again.

So go ahead Mr. Duceppe, dream on.

Just remember, separation would be an even bigger nightmare off the ice than on it.


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