Dec 19, 2011, 3:28 PM EDT
Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson commented on this weekend’s coaching change that saw Jacques Martin fired and assistant Randy Cunneyworth promoted to interim head coach.
The decision has come under fire because Cunneyworth can’t speak French. One Quebec-based nationalist group has called for a boycott of all Molson products while former NHLer Robert Sirois condemned the hire.
Today, Molson stood by GM Pierre Gauthier’s decision to promote Cunneyworth.
“Randy Cunneyworth is a qualified and experienced coach who has earned the respect of the players and everyone with the organization and he was ready to take over the responsibility of head coach,” Molson said. “As Pierre Gauthier indicated, the head coaching position will be reevaluated at the end of the season and, at that time the selection process will be carefully planned.”
With that said, Molson acknowledged the uniqueness of Montreal’s head coaching position, one Denis Poissant of the Journal de Montreal called “the most scrutinized personality in Quebec, even more than the prime minister, Celine Dion and even [Quebec City mayor] Regis Labeaume.”
“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 a permanent head coach,” Molson said.
Montreal’s last non-French-speaking bench boss was Bob Berry, who coached the team from 1981-84.
- Pressing Question: Can the Blackhawks avoid the Stanley Cup hangover? 3
- Florida wins ’14 NHL draft lottery, will pick first overall 35
- Philly mum on Mason’s availability for Game 1 vs. Rangers 25
- Pressing question: Can the Blues get back on track? 16
- That’s a raise: Flyers sign MacDonald to six-year, $30 million extension 90
- Sabres, Panthers have best odds for 2014 NHL draft lottery 16
- Leafs ‘lack an identity,’ says Leiweke 30
- On the hot seat: McPhee will ‘talk in a couple of days’ 21
- Bruins are 7/2 favorites to win the Stanley Cup; Blues next at 6/1 49
- End of an era: Trotz out as Nashville head coach 40
- That’s a raise: Flyers sign MacDonald to six-year, $30 million extension (90)
- Lightning’s Malone arrested for DUI, cocaine possession (73)
- Update: Daniel Sedin in stable condition, hospitalized after scary hit (58)
- Halak’s agent ‘bewildered’ by Oates’ remarks prior to Blues game (51)
- Here’s the schedule for the first round of the 2014 playoffs (51)