Blog Entry

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Posted on: December 22, 2011 2:20 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 3:32 pm

By Brian Stubits

OK, this whole language fiasco is getting out of hand. Who knew the province would be so angry after Jacques Martin was fired as Montreal Canadiens head coach?

A lot of stink has been raised about the fact that interim coach -- as in, not the full-time coach -- Randy Cunneyworth doesn't speak French. Because of that fact and that fact alone, the decision to elevate Cunneyworth to the top spot has drawn a lot of fire.

So much is being made about it that now a protest is being planned by a Quebec sovereignty group to rally against the Canadiens' coaching decision. From the Montreal Gazette:

Mario Beaulieu, president of the French Quebec Movement, and Denis Trudel, of the French Movement Montreal, issued a news release Thursday saying a rally would be held Jan. 7 outside the Bell Centre to protest “the Anglicization of the Montreal hockey club.”

The protest is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. ET, two hours before a game between the Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“We will be providing Quebec flags to Canadiens fans who, in waving them during the game, can also express their opinion,” Beaulieu and Trudel said in the news release.

The team's managers don't respect French as the language of Quebec, the release alleges.

The complaints go on to say that they don't play enough French music at games, kvetch about announcements being read in two languages at games (yes, that's really ignoring French) all the way to the fact that there are only a few players on the team who speak French (so I get the sense these Quebecers would rather have a team full of French players who suck than a good team with Anglophones that is good). The final straw to break the camel's back is the coach.

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I understand full well the desire of the people of Monteal (and Quebec) to want a coach that can speak French. To me, it is a very valid request. But what I just don't get is the backlash against this move. People, the coach was fired midseason because your Les Habitants weren't living up to expectations. They didn't have a chance to find the coach they wanted on a full-time basis, so they made an assistant the interim coach. Let it slide.

This does not mean that the Canadiens don't understand what it means to play as Quebec's team. Of course they do, the Canadiens are tied in very tightly with Quebec as a province, as silly as that might sound. The concept of having a Francophone lead their team isn't lost on them. One of the team owners, Geoff Molson, said as much.

Wait until a full-time hire is made before beginning this protesting. If the Habs were then to go out and hire a coach who doesn't speak French, rail away, say the team doesn't respect its French fan base. I'd be fine with that as a reasonable complaint. But it's just not right in this case.

Of course I feel awful for Cunneyworth. This is a guy who is trying to make his way up the NHL coaching ranks and is getting his shot to lead an NHL team. But he is at the center of a firestorm that is really nothing of his own making, unless you feel like faulting Cunneyworth for never learning to speak French. At least the guy should be given a chance to learn French. Instead, from the moment he was "hired" the complaints have been rolling in.

For his part, Cunneyworth says he's not paying attention to the circus environment that it's becoming, telling the Winnipeg Free Press that his focus is only on the team.

"I’m not even concerned with that," said Cunneyworth Thursday at MTS Centre. "Those are stories I haven’t even read or looked at or thought about. I have enough on my plate with the group we have. We’re just trying to win some hockey games."

Asked if the negative publicity undermined his authority with the team, Cunneyworth added:

"I’m not reading those articles or listening to that kind of media. It may be going on, but I only know of it because I get the odd positive comment from a stranger or somebody who is close to me. But I’m not reading those articles, I’m not thinking about those things at this time. I’m really focused on the group we have."

If he is able to drown all this talk out, then maybe he does have what it takes to be an NHL coach. Either that or it's because he doesn't understand the complaints (bazinga!).

Who'd a thunk that being the first Canadiens coach to start 0-3 in his career since the 1920s wouldn't even be his most egregious act as boss of the storied Habs?

Something -- OK, a lot of things -- are being lost in translation here.

Photo: Getty Images

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


Since: Sep 11, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:26 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Here in America all our major league sports have players from all over the world speaking many different languages.  There is a fix for the differing languages, it's a called an interpreter.  If you coach or manage a team you need to speak the language of the majority of your players.  For players for the most part you need to be able to communicate with your teammates.  Speaking the same language as your fans is way down the list after all the game related issues.  Most of the interviews with french speaking players trying to speak english are barely intelligble.  In time their english gets better just like the Swedish, Russian, Czech, German, Latin American, Asian, and other foreign players.  It wouldn't be so bad it it wasn't for the BASELESS French cultural arrogance.  France has not been relevant for over 200 years.  They have not won a war since they fought themselves in their revolution, their food and wine are overrated and overpriced, they have not made a contribution to the world as a whole in more years than most can count.  The Canadians of French descent want to identify with these losers why?  They were the last Frenchmen with any balls and they emigrated a couple of hundred years ago.  Time to move into the 21st century.

Since: Dec 25, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:37 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

So I mispelled a word, who cares? You just don't like the fact of what I said is true, so let's just do personal attacks. I think you would agree that if a person is going to critize someone else for his spelling, he should make sure every word he puts down is spelled correctly?

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:12 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Stevens87, the least you could do is speak proper English when criticizing those who do not. Not only did you mispell in your statement, your grammar is lacking as well. I am not one to push as the grammar police, however, when I see morons posting about language and they cannot intelligently express their opinion correctly I get annoyed. 

Please, in the future, attempt to sound like an educated American and use the proper format of my language. It irritates me to read people statements when they can not articulate the thoughts they have properly. It is a pity grammar has plummeted in this melting pot.

As for the Montreal Canadiens, the French thin highly of their language and culture.  I for one do not have a problem with it. I am glad somewhere in this hemisphere a culture takes pride in its language.

Since: Dec 25, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 1:09 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

You must be the spelling police. Ok what word is aAre?

Since: Sep 12, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:47 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

No, Americans care and get riled up when ILLEGAL immagrants come into this country and don't speak English.

aAre you an immagrant? or an



Since: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: December 26, 2011 12:00 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Why not just change the name of the team to the Montreal Frenchmen if it really means that much to the French community up there. And how about this: all players playing for American teams MUST speak English. Or, lets just play hockey and stop freakin crying about meaningless nonsense.

Since: Dec 25, 2011
Posted on: December 25, 2011 11:46 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

No, Americans care and get riled up when ILLEGAL immagrants come into this country and don't speak English.

Since: Nov 16, 2007
Posted on: December 25, 2011 10:34 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

As for you Sportsdork: You are but another jealous unilingual dunce lacking the mental capacities to have retained the obligatory second language course in high school. Sadly you are getting even farther behind the times because a vast growing number of this population is more and more TRILINGUAL.

So loser don't take it out on Quebecers if you are bitter from having inherited low-grade DNA and now are stuck at a menial low paying job. Blame your crappy family tree for that one.

Since: Nov 16, 2007
Posted on: December 25, 2011 10:17 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Well kstacey you've proven that you are also an ''idiot'' plus being an uninformed and uneducated '' moron''  at that. Proving my theory about fukhead Americans too self centered and lacking the mental skills to know ANYTHING about the world around them.
Larry Robinson DOES speak French , having the respect to have learnt it to communicate with the overwhelming majority Francophone fanbase in the city. Anyways an imbecile as yourself will never understand the historical and cultural differences that have made up Canada to what it is today for the last 400 years, so don't even try top give your douchebag opinion and just STFU.

Since: Aug 30, 2006
Posted on: December 25, 2011 10:01 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Larry Robinson speaks enough French to satisfy the people in Quebec.

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