The great Montreal Canadiens language debate of 2011-12 continued to roll on Saturday night. Prior to the Canadiens' 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning a group of around 200 protesters made their presence felt outside of the Bell Centre to voice their displeasure of the hiring of interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth (following the dismisal of Jacques Martin) and his inability to speak french. Along with that, the Quebec-based group is also unhappy about the Canadiens team not having enough french-speaking players on the roster.
This, of course, isn't all that different from what was being said by a small, yet vocal minority of the Canadiens' fan base the day Cunneyworth was hired, and we even knew this demonstration was coming.
Mario Beaulieu, the president of Mouvement Quebec francais released the following statement in advance of the demonstration. Via the Montreal Gazette:
"The Montreal Canadiens management does not respect the status of French as Quebec’s official language. The music played in the Bell Centre is English. All announcements made in the arena are bilingual. There are only two or three francophone players left on the team. And now they have named a head coach who doesn’t speak a word of French. Not even ‘Bonjour’.”It should be pointed out that these group of xenophobes doesn't represent the entire Montreal Canadiens fan base. Your average Canadiens fan that shows up at the Bell Centre every game in his Mike Cammalleri jersey, ready to pound down a couple of Molson's with his buddies would probably be satisfied if the guy standing behind the bench spoke, I don't know, Chinese, just as long as the team on the ice won games. But the loudest voices always get the most attention, and here we are.
If nothing else, this most recent demonstration illustrates that this noise isn't going away anytime soon.
Previously At Eye On Hockey
Quebec group unhappy with Cunneyworth hire
Storm will die down as Cunneyworth makes Montreal adjustments
Jacques Martin fired by Canadiens
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