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: Oct 8, 2006
Posted on: December 22, 2011 10:40 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

They should trade for Chara and make him player coach

Since: Feb 11, 2008
Posted on: December 22, 2011 8:44 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Mr. Stubits, thank you for bringing this to light, very close to 40 years ago, actually 41 years, that there was a huge outcry on Al McNeil being the head coach of the Montreal ( yes there's an "r" Montreal) Canadiens. One of the biggest proponents was Henri "pocket rocket" Richard, was a glorious year for the Habs that year,an  amasing upset of the record breaking Bruins, and again a big upset over the mighty Chicago Black Hawks in the finals, these two teams might be the best teams of each franchise history. Henri Richard scored the tie and got the winning goal to win the Stanley Cup. Final line Al McNeil led the Montreal Canadiens to a most improbable Stanley Cup victory! Yet the Francophones could not let it go, c'etait un maudit anglais! The political situation was tenous at the time, living in Montreal , it kind of shocks me that French Canadians are still so paranoid! Yes they relate their culture to the Habs, but this 2011! Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings!

Since: Sep 8, 2006
Posted on: December 22, 2011 8:34 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Actually, the terms of surrender from the final battle of that war guaranteed the French the right to their language and culture. So it's not like Louisiana at all. Reneging on that agreement would be to basically turn back the surrender and probably give them all of the French held territory back.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the coach of a hockey team except in the minds of a few who are desperately trying to rally up any kind of dissent they can muster. Why it appears in the sports news at all is beyond me.

Since: Jul 22, 2007
Posted on: December 22, 2011 7:52 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

The French are just confused, they elected Ruth Brosseau to parliament and found out after that she couldn't speak French.  However the Habs were on so they let it slide.  No protest.  This however, is much more important.  If they are right, however, shouldn't Ted Nolan be coaching everywhere?

Since: May 18, 2009
Posted on: December 22, 2011 6:32 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

The fact of the matter is that MONTREAL CITY is 50% french speaking and 50% english and other language. This is the REST of Queerbec being what they are typically know for...being GIANT Douche's! Oh, you don't speak my heck with you they say. I'm not blowing smoke out my ass here, this is a known fact. Having relatives that live in Montreal and other areas in Quebec, I see the looks on their faces when you ask a french person a question in english. Well EXCUSE ME, these are the same one's that have been wanting to seperate Quebec from Canada for such a long time. Not too mention the Quebec government getting their Big Noses in hockey business by trying to bring charges against Zdeno Chara. Really? Do We want our government getting involved in a hockey game? Hell no! But because it happened in MONTREAL....WOE IS ME!!! Maybe if the HABS themselves or the Que-douche government looked up every once in a while, they would see that hit like the one Pacioretty took are more common than just in frenchy land.This is just tiresome hearing this BS every year coming out of Montreal year after year. Maybe they should shut the hell up and realize that the HABS are owned by Englishmen. OLE, OLE OLE OLE. Come up with an original chant of your own will ya. Real smart, use soccer chants during hockey games.

Since: Oct 18, 2006
Posted on: December 22, 2011 6:12 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Briere doesn't want to play for the Habs because he prefers playing in a helmet and gloves as opposed to a chef hat and oven mitts.

Since: Apr 8, 2009
Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:45 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

As a Canuck fan living in Montreal (although I do like the Habs as well), this protest represents a tiny fraction of real Habs fans. Real Habs fans couldn't care less if the coach could only speak Russian, as long as the team wins. This whole language issue is blown out of proportion by a small fanatical political party and the French Canadian media. As for not having enough French Canadian hockey players on the team, maybe people should be asking why don't French Canadian free agents want to play in Montreal, i.e. D.Briere?

Since: Sep 15, 2008
Posted on: December 22, 2011 5:19 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Sep 6, 2010
Posted on: December 22, 2011 4:52 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

I really don't understand. It's like me (a Bruins' fan) being upset that our coach does speak French.Wink

Since: Dec 31, 2006
Posted on: December 22, 2011 4:49 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

You know, I love Canada, but the fact is that a war was fought over this and the French lost.
Get over it. Quebec is not France, it is a Canadian province. It's the same if suddenly we allowed Louisiana or Texas to want everything multi-lingual and demand French or Hispanic coaches for all of their teams.
The Quebecois movement is racist by definition. They want respect for their heritage. Fine. Given. Denying someone an opportunity because he's not French, or speaks no French? Discrimination.

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