Habs Dump Coach, But Language is the Issue

You cannot blame Jacques Martin on is firing as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. The blame should be primarily on Pierre Gauthier who did nothing worthy in the off-season except getting Eric Cole. Even worse, he signed often injured Andrei Markov to a three year contract. Markov is probably relaxing in front of a big screen TV watching the teams lacklustre performance.
Meanwhile, not surprised, with the hiring of Randy Cunneyworth as the interm coach has caused some bigger controversey. His French is non-existent. Although he has promised to learn French, he won’t have much time until the off-season – which should begin in early April as the team probably won’t make the playoffs.
But, back to the French issue. Cunneyworth is the first unilingual Anglophone coach since Al MacNeil in the early 1970s. Anglophone Bob Berry in the 1980s coached the Canadiens. Berry lasted a while – primarily because he was coaching a good team that could win and could speak a bit of French. So the fans [and nutty media and even nuttier politicians] didn’t care. Cunneyworth doesn’t have even a good team.
Meanwhile various political groups and politicians in the province have already ganged up to take their advantage in the situation. Ultra-nationalist groups were the first out of the gate, taking many shots before other critics had a chance to. One group denounced the move and advised a boycott of Molson products (who are owners of the team).
Some of the groups complained about the lack of francophones on the team. Well, unless you draft them and come up to the team or you trade for them or sign them as a free agent, they won’t come. Many francophone players do not want to play in Montreal because of the pressure. Don’t blame them.


About ebraiter
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