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 2, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 7:52 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

This is one of the most ridiculous strings I've read in a long, long time. I think French is a beautiful language and even send all my kids to a French Immersion school here in the US. Thats where my support for the French ends. The thought of protesting a new coach because he doesn't speak French is idiotic. Unfortunately, it is that type of draconian ideology that keeps the French a joke in the minds of so many. Frankly, I hope these shortsighted Candian "fans" keep up their buffoonery. It serves as a good distraction to their team which makes them easier to beat. The Wild, Hawks, and Wings have one less team to worry about.

Since: Sep 15, 2006
Posted on: December 26, 2011 2:17 pm

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

As a English Canadian Canadien fan, I find this totally outrageous! Shouldn't we be more concerned with the on ice product? I also read somewhere that 22 out of their 24 Stanley cups were coached by English coaches. The french in Quebec have been out of control with this type of behaviour for years, it's always about keeping the poor french speakers persecuted under the english boot. Jacques Martin should never have been coach in the first place since he was an Ottawa Senator cast off. If Cunneyworth wins the cup I bet the french fans will adore him as much as the english fans will.

P.S. Loved the 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' reference, it fits perfectly!

Since: Feb 5, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:44 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

I'm okay with all the hoopla. It's taking the focus away from what really matters: improving as a team and winning games. If the people of Canada can't see that, too bad for them. Their loss.

Since: Mar 16, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:21 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.  Go and boil your bottoms, you sons of silly persons!  I'm French. Why do you think I have this outrageous accent, you silly king?  

Since: Nov 26, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:18 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

Well qubecdumb alias (quebecdom), you are so wrong on all your accounts of me. My DNA is fine because it has multiple unilingual ties to many countries. I am actaully proud of my heritage and thank the stars that none of my ancestors happend to stumble upon Kabec on their journeys through this great country of ours. I am actually in the higher percentile of wage earners and have a degree from a very accredited University, so bad guess. I think I speak for all of Canada when it was proven last election how we were estatic with the results of seperatist movement in Kabec. How many seats did your Bloc Quebecois get again.....oh thats right a whopping 4. Gilles Duceppe could not even speak  english during the debate and we want him representing our country, um not! Anyway, the only reason we need Quebec is the St. Lawrence Seaway and other than that we can get Maple Syrup from other sources. Not all people in Quebec are in the dark, there are some great people there who have been able to take their heads out of the sand. When you said "falling behind further and further" this is actually what a great number of the the people in Kabec are doing as we speak. Have a wonderful day.

Since: Apr 29, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2011 11:16 am

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.
Well you have confirmed my opinion about French people here in Canada being self centered and arrogant. You are so self centered that you can't even read my post properly. I am Canadian, not an American you idiot. Second of all, anytime you French people get unhappy about something you cry about cultural differences to make your case for special treatment. You explain to me, if you can, in a reasonable argument, without swearing, how these supposed "cultural differences" require a hockey coach who coaches players to play hockey to speak French. It is not the coach's job to teach them how to speak French. BTW most of the players of French origin. Look at their roster. There are currently TWO players of French origin. Why not get pissed that all, or even a majority of the players, are not of a French background? 

Again, see if you respond to my questions without swearing, or ridiculous arguments. I bet you can't do it.

Since: Dec 18, 2007
Posted on: December 26, 2011 9:51 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

I agree with them.  It's too bad the USA doesn't have the same attitude toward English as they have toward French.  Once this country went down the multilingual path, it wasn't long before it turned into an open sewer.

Since: Jul 12, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 6:34 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

The funny thing is that the arrogant folks from Quebec don't realize what a bunch of idiots this makes them look like.  Too good for the rest of us?  Hardly.  I do feel badly for the other citizens of Canada who must constantly deal with their country being perceived as a bunch of dopes because of these morons from Quebec. 

Since: Nov 11, 2006
Posted on: December 26, 2011 5:16 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

I found this to be hilarious. This is like American hockey fan protesting that most of their players aren't American. I think French Canadians would be laughing their butts off if we did that, or at least they should be if we did that. Who cares if you players are from another country or region? Most baseball players barely speak English and Americans don't whine about it. If people from other cultures make for a better proffesional sports team why on earth would you want worse players? Personally, I say give Montreal their wish. Get rid of every player that doesn't speak French, and sign only players that do. I'll be laughing all the way as the Montreal Canadians set a record for the most losses in NHL history. If people are stupid enough to shoot themselves in the foot, get out of the way and maybe even help them do it!

(Hmm...I think a team should offer to trade all their French speaking players to the Canadiens for all their non-French speakers...)

Since: Dec 7, 2011
Posted on: December 26, 2011 3:52 am

Protest planned against 'Anglicization' of Habs

nhl fans always seem to be protesting about something. it will blow over. they will smack each other in the head with a hockey stick. the fans will get excited an forget what they are protesting about.

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