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Shane Doan takes legal action against Denis Coderre

MONTREAL, Jan. 17 /CNW Telbec/ - Phoenix Coyotes Captain Shane Doan today launched an Introductory Motion in Quebec Superior Court against Denis Coderre, MP for the riding of Bourassa, seeking reparation for damages incurred by Mr. Doan following remarks he considers to be false and defamatory made by Mr. Coderre in relation to statements that were falsely attributed to Mr. Doan during a hockey game between Phoenix and Montreal, on December 13, 2005.

Mr. Doan is seeking $250,000 CAN from Mr. Coderre, including $200,000 for moral damages and $50,000 for punitive and exemplary damages. Mr. Doan has pledged to donate to charity any and all damages that may be awarded to him as a result of these proceedings. Mr. Doan is also seeking a public retraction by Mr. Coderre. The proceedings follow a formal request by Mr. Doan, dated December 23, 2005, asking Mr. Coderre to retract his remarks and wrongful accusation within 10 days.

Mr. Doan has consistently publicly denied having made any racial comments toward francophones and has always maintained that he was wrongfully accused by Mr. Coderre of having made these remarks.

In an affidavit attached to the motion, Shane Doan, declared the following:

"I did not make any comment that could be construed as derogatory towards French-speaking people, during the hockey game involving the Phoenix Coyotes and the Montreal Canadiens, on December 13, 2005. Such remarks are completely incompatible with the values I espouse as both a hockey player and a proud Canadian citizen; and I reaffirm that I would never use derogatory language towards members of any community or group, including those who speak either of Canada's two official languages."

The facts of the case

---------------------

On December 13, 2005, during a hockey game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Center in Montreal, referee Stéphane Auger assessed Mr. Doan with a 10-minute misconduct penalty, having conclude that he had verbally abused an official and made culturally related comments against the referees because the game was called by four francophone officials.

The National Hockey League (NHL) reviewed these allegations and concluded that they were unsubstantiated since there was not any proof that Mr. Doan had made any such racial slurs nor was there any evidence of verbal misconduct toward any of the referees. No additional disciplinary measures were taken against him by the NHL. Mr. Doan also immediately issued a public statement denying having made any such anti-francophone comments.

On or about December 22, 2005, Mr. Coderre sent a letter to Robert Nicholson, president of Hockey Canada, wherein he unequivocally accuses the Plaintiff of verbally abusing the officials, going as far as quoting him as having said that they were all "fucking Frenchmen." Mr. Coderre also asked Mr. Nicholson to expel Mr. Doan from Team Canada unless he formally apologized for having verbally abused the French Canadians.

Mr. Coderre also sent a copy of his letter to Mr. Nicholson to Mike Chambers, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, which has final approval of all athletes named to the Canadian Olympic Team, asking that they reconsider Mr. Doan's inclusion in the Canadian Hockey Team.

Mr. Chambers also concluded that there was no evidence that Mr. Doan had made any derogatory racial comments toward any of the officials. Moreover, Colin Campbell, executive vice-president and director of hockey operations with the NHL, has publicly stated that Mr. Doan was never found to have made any inappropriate comments and that Mr. Coderre had never contacted the NHL to enquire about the incident before voicing his complaint and denouncing Mr. Doan publicly.

Notwithstanding Mr. Doan's continual and unequivocal denials of any wrongdoing and despite his full exoneration by the NHL, Mr. Coderre has continued to wrongfully accuse and denounce him publicly in the media for having made inappropriate racial comments, insisting that his behaviour was reprehensible and totally unacceptable.

Consequently, Mr. Doan contends in his motion that the accusations, allegations and insinuations brought forth by Mr. Coderre in his letters and through public remarks to the media are entirely false and defamatory and that he has, by his recklessness, negligence and carelessness, grossly defamed him.

The motion states that Mr. Doan is a person of flawless moral conduct and Christian values and boasts an impeccable résumé, both as a professional athlete and a Canadian citizen. The false and gratuitous accusations made so publicly by Mr. Coderre against Mr. Doan have damaged his integrity and tarnished his honour and reputation as both a professional hockey player and a citizen of impeccable standing.

For further information: JP Barry, IMG Hockey, (310) 893-9495; Hugo Delaney, (514) 843-1904

© CNW Group

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