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

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

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.

More on Canadiens
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Storm will die down as Cunneyworth makes Montreal adjustments Read

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.

Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:14 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 9:29 pm
 

Habs owner: Bilingual coach 'important factor'

By Brian Stubits

Ah yes, the best way to get a message through is to go after the wallet. As we all know, money talks.

As you already know, a nationalistic group in Quebec wasn't happy with the Montreal Canadiens' decision to fire Jacques Martin and replace him with interim coach Randy Cunneyworth. Their anger has nothing to do with the Habs' poor play and everything to do with Cunneyworth's lack of ability to speak French.

Apparently they don't understand the concept of an "interim" coach, as in a fill-in, a guy keeping the seat warm. Either way, the threat was put out there of a boycott on all Molson products. Of course, Geoff Molson (pictured) is the majority owner of the Habs and his Molson company makes some pretty popular beverages.

The chatter caught his attention (well, I'm sure Molson was already aware of the issue to begin with). Molson released a statement expressing the priorities and concerns for the organization when they hire a full-time coach. Here is a snippet.

"Although our main priority remains to win hockey games and to keep improving as a team, it is obvious that the ability for the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of the permanent head coach.

"Like all our fans we hope for the Montreal Canadiens to be among the top teams in the NHL and we are doing everything we possibly can to win."

More on Canadiens
Ray Ratto Ray Ratto
Storm will die down as Cunneyworth makes Montreal adjustments Read

Everything except hiring a coach that doesn't speak French, of course. That's what I'm led to conclude.

It would seem to exclude Cunneyworth from getting the job full-time if he proves worthy as a coach this season. That's unless he takes some classes in French and shows an effort to speak the local language. It would really be a shame if he didn't get the job primarily for this reason, but that's a long way away.

But with statements like this, it gives the feeling that Cunneyworth is a lame duck. You have to figure that the candidate pool is very limited and you can certainly expect to hear the name Patrick Roy come up a lot, as well as one-time Quebec Nordiques coach Marc Crawford. Funny enough, Crawford didn't speak French when he was hired in Quebec, but he learned. Of course it wasn't much help when the 'Diques moved to Colorado the next season.

But man it would be so delicious to see Roy come back to the Canadiens bench. Could he really complain if a player took exception to his managing and demanded a trade?

Photo: Getty Images

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

Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:33 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 4:38 pm
 

Habs owner: 'Faith' in NHL shaken over Chara flap



Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson wrote in an open letter released Thursday that he shared fans' “frustration, disappointment and shock” with the NHL’s decision not to suspend Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for a hit that led to serious injuries to Habs forward Max Pacioretty.

“The news of the NHL decision yesterday was a hard blow for both the players and fans of the Montreal Canadiens,” Molson wrote. “It was one which shook the faith that we, as a community, have in this sport that we hold in such high regard.

“The Montreal Canadiens organization does not agree with the decision taken yesterday by the National Hockey League. We can assure you that we have made our position clear to Commissioner Gary Bettman, and that he has agreed to make this issue a priority at the next General Manager’s meeting, which will be held in Florida on March 14-16.  Pierre Gauthier, our General Manager, will be present at this meeting and has already expressed his wish to carry out, clearly, our message to his 29 counterparts and to the League.”

Molson (above with former Habs player Alexei Kovalev) did not say whether the organization was in favor of a police investigation launched into the incident. 

The full letter can be found here
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com