Blog Entry

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire

Posted on: December 19, 2011 10:44 am
Edited on: December 19, 2011 7:35 pm
 
By: Adam Gretz

There can't be a job in the NHL that carries more pressure and faces more scrutiny than being the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Not only is it a rabid fan base that demands perfection, but you also have to deal with two separate groups of equally harsh media, one of which speaks English, and another that speaks French.

Shortly after he was named as the interim replacement for Jacques Martin following his firing on Saturday, Randy Cunneyworth is starting to get a taste of what it's like inside the belly of the beast. And it's all because he doesn't speak French.

Over the past 20-plus years the Canadiens have made it a point to hire coaches that speak both languages, and when looking at lists of prospective new hires it's almost always limited to bilingual candidates. That of course changed with the placement of Cunneyworth behind the bench over the weekend, and predictably, some people in Quebec aren't happy about it. Mainly those that speak French.

Impératif Français, a Quebec-based nationalist group, has criticized the hire and called it a "bodycheck to Quebec." Along with being overly critical of the hire and calling the ability to speak French a "prerequisite" for the job, the nationalist group has also called for a boycott of all Molson Products, the corporation that owns the team.

Pro-French activist Gilles Rhéaume, representing Ligue Québécoise contre la Francophobie Canadienne, released a similar statement as translated by CJAD in Montreal:
"There are many in Quebec and in all of French America who are asking, the day after a unilingual anglophone was given the head coaching job, if the Canadiens' management hasn't been stricken with francophobia, characterized by a total insensitivity to the French fact in Quebec," Rhéaume wrote. "Not being able to speak French is a severe handicap for someone who occupies such a position. Knowledge of the language of Quebec is an integral part of the skills required to lead the Montreal Canadiens."
What? And you thought the ability to lead the team to wins was the the only integral part of the job?

The problem is people like this -- along with having an obvious fear or bias against anything that's from outside of Quebec -- is that they are still stuck in the stone ages when NHL teams were mostly provincial due to territorial rights, and a team like the Canadiens was made up of almost nothing but French-speaking players from Quebec.

Knowing French may be helpful in his dealings with the media, but to be a head coach in the league today is to deal with a wide range of people from every possible background and culture. The Canadiens roster, as currently constructed, has just three players from Quebec. It has five players from the United States and 10 from various countries in Europe, including Finland, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus and Russia.

It's a global game, and the Canadiens are a global team.

As long as Cunneyworth can communicate his message to his players and put them in a position to succeed, the language he speaks (or doesn't speak) shouldn't matter.

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Canadiens Fire Jacques Martin
More on the NHL's Coaching Carousel

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Comments

Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 2:20 pm
 

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire

Actually, it goes to show the arrogance and ignorance of the vocal few. General consensus on the street is that most francophone Hab fans just want the team to win. Another slow news day at CBS.



Since: Feb 22, 2008
Posted on: December 19, 2011 2:15 pm
 

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire

This just displays the arrogance and ignorance of the French-Canadian people. As I am not a fan of the Canadiens, I would love for them to limit the scope of their coaching search to just fracophones. Please do that and only scout/draft/sign francophone players. If you do that, you will most definitely be one of the worst teams in the league since you will miss out on all of the non-francophone talent. Oh, and by the way, your team isn't any good because Pierre Guathier is an awful GM, but at least he is a francophone!



Since: Nov 14, 2009
Posted on: December 19, 2011 1:13 pm
 

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire

How many of those on the Canadiens actually speak French?  The majority of Canada's population doesn't, and the majority of the Canadiens' roster doesn't, either.  The only things affected by the coach not speaking French are press coferences, and looking at the standings, it doesn't appear too many fans are taking the press coferences seriously.



Since: Dec 19, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 12:31 pm
 

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire

I have to tell everybody , that french and english ar not half and half in Québec province. French is almopst 90 % and english speaking about 10 % . So , anybody who wants to be rexpected in Québec must be at last bilingual , french-english . The english population is over represented in medias, hospitals, universities. Thanks.



Since: Sep 22, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 12:25 pm
 

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire

So I guess you should all be "STUCK" with just french speaking players no Russians, Sweeds. American. or Maybe when they are drafted there signing bonus shoud be Rosetta Stone French Edition I bet you would attract alot of the elite players with that one.  Cunnyworth is a great hire. People should let him prove it with the work of the team on the ice.



Since: Jul 1, 2010
Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:47 am
 

Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire


What? And you thought the ability to lead the team to wins was the the only integral part of the job?
lol, we were all fools.
As long as Cunneyworth can communicate his message to his players and put them in a position to succeed, the language he speaks (or doesn't speak) shouldn't matter.
That would make the most sense to me, but maybe it doesn't in all of Quebec.




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