Officials to testify before parliamentary committee

MYTISCHI, Russia -- Shane Doan offered to step down as Canada's hockey captain after Quebec politicians raised concerns about an alleged ethnic remark toward a French-Canadian referee during a 2005 NHL game.

On Wednesday at the world championships, there was more attention on Doan than Canada's 5-4 victory over Slovakia after Hockey Canada officials agreed to appear before a parliamentary committee in Ottawa to explain why he was selected captain.

"I'm embarrassed that there's all this attention about it," Doan said. "I never said anything so I don't understand why it keeps getting a life of its own."

The team is determined to keep Doan as captain.

"I said to Hockey Canada I'd support any decision they made," Doan said. "They've been nothing but supportive of me. I obviously don't want to cause a distraction but in our locker room it's been great."

Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson, chairman Rene Marcil and senior director Brad Pascall will appear Thursday before Canada's House of Commons' Official Languages Committee.

Canada's opposition parties questioned the choice of Doan because of accusations he uttered an ethnic slur in December 2005 toward French-speaking officials during a NHL game between his Phoenix Coyotes and the Montreal Canadiens.

Doan told The Canadian Press he was trying to calm down goalie Curtis Joseph when linesmen Michel Cormier thought he heard the Phoenix captain utter a slur against Francophones. As Joseph hovered around center ice, Doan said he skated over to him and yelled: "Four French referees in Montreal, Cuje, figure it out."

All four officials were French-Canadian.

"I would have done the same thing if we were in Los Angeles and it was four officials from California," Doan said. "Or if we were in Calgary and it was four Westerners."

An investigation by the NHL found no evidence he used any slur.

New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton suggested that Doan's captaincy would "cast a shadow on [Canada's] participation on the international stage." Fellow opposition party Bloc Quebecois said it was disrespectful to French Canadians.

"Wherever this guy's coming from, he's got to park it right now," Canada coach Andy Murray said. "There's a lot more issues in Canada that are more important and certainly globally as well. Let's get real and get on with things."

Doan said he had received a call from Layton.

"He never apologized. It wasn't a call to apologize. It wasn't that," Doan said. "He left me a message to wish me all the best and to play hockey and to do what I do and to encourage me to go forward and to play hockey.

"I think he said it's too bad that I'm caught up in all this and that we'll work it out when we can talk. I returned the phone call and I simply said I appreciated his time and him giving me a phone call but I wished he'd not commented the way he had before getting a chance to know who I was and that I'd love an opportunity to express my side of the story," he said.

Doan was part of Canada's gold medal-winning team at the 2003 and 2004 World Championships.

Doan is suing former sports minister Denis Coderre, contending that he falsely accused him of making the slur to referee Stephane Auger. Doan also wants Coderre to make a public retraction.