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Quebec-based nationalist group blasts Montreal’s decision to hire Cunneyworth

Dec 18, 2011, 5:36 PM EDT

Randy Cunneyworth;

Impératif Français, a Quebec-based nationalistic group, is denouncing the Montreal Canadiens’ decision to hire Randy Cunneyworth as interim head coach.

They’ve called the hiring of Cunneyworth — who, unlike many his Habs coaching predecessors, cannot speak French — a “bodycheck to Quebec,” and a “gross misconduct.”

“Being unable to speak French is a severe handicap for someone in that position,” the group wrote in a statement. “Knowing the French language is a pre-requisite for leading the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.”

The group has also called for a boycott of all Molson products. (The Molson family owns the Canadiens.)

Cunneyworth took over from Jacques Martin just prior to Montreal’s game against New Jersey, which the Habs would go on to lose 5-3. In doing so, he became Montreal’s first non-French speaking head coach since Bob Berry, who was behind the Canadiens bench from 1981-84.

Even with that history in place, many Quebeckers are still questioning the move.

“The coach of the Canadiens is the most scrutinized personality in Quebec, even more than the prime minister, Celine Dion and even [Quebec City mayor] Regis Labeaume,” wrote Denis Poissant of the Journal de Montreal. “And Cunneyworth can’t answer questions in French. It doesn’t make any sense.”

The decision to name Cunneyworth head coach has also come under fire from former NHLer Robert Sirois, best known as the author of Discrimination in the NHL: Quebec Hockey Players Sidelined.

“The Canadiens should be a source of national pride for all Quebeckers,” Sirois said. “Not an agent of anglicisation.”

  1. loinstache - Dec 18, 2011 at 5:52 PM

    So glad I live on the West and don’t have to deal with the juvenile cultural whining of certain Quebec folk. Maintain a cultural identity is fine but they take it to a juvenile level.

  2. thegonz13 - Dec 18, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    Who gives a crap anyway? Only half the population in Montreal speaks French; the other half speaks English and a host of other languages!

  3. east96st - Dec 18, 2011 at 6:54 PM

    “The coach of the Canadiens is the most scrutinized personality in Quebec, even more than the prime minister”

    That’s the kind of stupidity we’ve been showing off in the States for the last 40 years. You may not want to follow that example. It hasn’t turned out spectacularly well for us. We have a nation that can tell you “who got voted off the island” and has no idea the Iraq War is over or even where Iraq is on a map. Priorities, mon amis, priorities.

  4. kingjoe1 - Dec 18, 2011 at 7:35 PM

    “Knowing the French language is a pre-requisite for leading the Montreal Canadiens hockey team.”…given the recent success that is the only pre-requisite. I guess knowing hockey isnt all that important.

  5. elvispocomo - Dec 18, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    What I don’t get is they’re freaking out over an interim head coach! It’s not like he’s been named the official coach for here and ever after.

    If they want a French-speaking head coach they also have to realize there aren’t just a bunch of them floating around whose coaching skills are worthy of the job – either that or the losing coach’s interviews will be “en Francais, non?”

  6. vshehane - Dec 18, 2011 at 7:43 PM

    Maybe Pepe La Pew is available. Seems fitting.

  7. atwatercrushesokoye - Dec 18, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Funny I thought winning was the biggest prerequesite for being a professional coach. Especially since only 3 players on the team are of Quebec heritage. If this group were really serious about separating from Canada shouldn’t they be lobbying the team to change their nickname?

    I’m glad I don’t live in Quebec, their quest to “promote and preserve the French language” is taken to ridiculous levels, in Quebec KFC is called PFK because that it’s translation and the company was forced to make the change, what do you think it’s called in France?….KFC of course!

    • ribs108 - Dec 18, 2011 at 10:02 PM

      Actually, it’s “whining” that’s everything in Kebekistan. 35 years and they still don’t realize how petty they sound. Now there’s only reverse nationalism in Canada. G*d forbid someone from Saskatchewan should try to get a job for his/her national government in Ottawa as most jobs there require french….and still they want more.

  8. uscthom78 - Dec 18, 2011 at 8:11 PM

    Don’t they know most of the players don’t speak french….lol

  9. bcjim - Dec 18, 2011 at 8:39 PM

    Dear Haughty FCs:

    STFU, nobdody cares about your “Frenchiness”

    Oh, and go vaca somewhere besides FL.


    • hank10 - Dec 18, 2011 at 9:26 PM

      ‘Oh, and go vaca somewhere besides FL.’
      Add the So. Jersey shore towns to that, too, along with the guys in Speedos. Yeesh.

  10. pens919209 - Dec 18, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    So… if I learn French, does my resume go to the front of the line for the Montreal head coach position?

    Maybe Cunneyworth can win folks over in Quebec by eating french fries during press conferences… or enjoying some french vanilla coffee behind the bench. He can take the players to see New Wave French cinema at the theater.

    Seriously, this is a ridiculous thing for people to be concerned about. But then again, the Penguins once had a French head coach who couldn’t speak English. I can only imagine the street riots that took place during Pierre Creamer’s tenure.

  11. rainyday56 - Dec 19, 2011 at 12:59 AM

    Triumph the insult dog said it best: “Ya hear that? That’s the sound of the rest of North America not giving a s***.”

  12. galuple - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:46 AM

    I bet they were pissed when Scotty Bowman was running the team. 5 Stanley cups in 8 years, including 4 in a row.

  13. rainyday56 - Dec 19, 2011 at 9:58 AM

    Buddy, Scotty Bowman speaks fluent French.

  14. haterzgonahate - Dec 19, 2011 at 2:10 PM

    i remember the first time i seen the movie “Candian Bacon” and the scene where Dan Akroyd is the language police.. i thought to myself..”lol.. get real, it can’t be that ridiculous”

    oh indeed it is! Quebec takes ridiculous to a whole notha level

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