As is often the case in this market, culture, and language, matter a lot. The reality though is, if you look at surveys taken over the past few years (on francophone websites), it doesn't matter to a lot of Canadiens fans. But as is often the case, a minority of individuals appear to be the most vocal (need I remind you as well that the pool or universe of Habs fans is much greater than just the people of Quebec...point being if you surveyed ALL the fans, I bet you wouldn't even get 10% that put a huge premium on a player's origin).
But as I've mentioned time and time again on this website, I am very proud that French is my mother tongue. I value the language, the culture, all that makes Quebec unique. Vive la différence! But I have little patience for those with political agendas. Those who want more local players at any prix.
Case in point, some in the French media pushed extremely hard during this past training camp for Raphael Harvey-Pinard to make the team. It felt like a concerted effort by some, to the point where they would dismiss the contributions of current, proven NHL-level players on the team. A few suggested RHP should push Arturi Lehkonen out (funny how today we are hearing Lehkonen is in high demand across the NHL, potentially even fetching the team a 1st rounder). This obsession by some to have more "gars de chez nous" is all fine and dandy. But again, when it reaches the point of preferring an inferior local player, fans should stand up and simply say NON. I believe the majority of us share that point of view.
In the past couple of weeks, several in the French media have also begun questioning Ryan Poehling's contribution to the team even suggesting he should lose his spot in the lineup. Some felt that Laurent Dauphin had surpassed him in the team's hierarchy. That Dauphin should be the team's 3rd line center next year. Now I have no problems with the player. But let's face it. He is what he is. Likely playing at his ceiling. But regardless, not only has Poehling looked good this season, he did so while being on a fourth line, with AHL-caliber players. I also feel his offensive upside is greater than that of Dauphin. The progress is evident if you compare his play to the beginning of the season. We're talking about a player who played very few games in College, and one who has had several injuries impede his ascension these past couple of years.
Dauphin is a serviceable 2-way veteran center (closing in on 27 years of age). He has never shown much in the way of offensive skills. The sample size is much greater. Ryan Poehling is bigger, faster, and several years younger. Besides, if the Canadiens plan on being a serious contender in a couple of years 1) It's likely neither Dauphin nor Poehling should be your 2 or 3C, and 2) you might as well give Poehling all the ice time you can in what is a lost season, to see what his real upside is. A rebuilding team should be prioritizing its youth.
It is highly likely the Canadiens will be upgrading their crop of forwards in the next year or so; constructing a team that is young, fast, and skilled. At best, Laurent Dauphin could be the team's 13th forward. But there is no way, shape, or form, should a rebuilding team (or whatever word you wish to use to describe this transition) be giving all this ice time to AHL-level veterans over more promising young players, regardless of what language they speak.
At equal talent and with a similar profile and fit based on where the team is heading, absolutely, let us bring some solid local players. But this rhetoric of just propping up every francophone player is nonsensical and frustrating as heck to listen to.