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Canadiens owner addresses coaching controversy

Dec 19, 2011, 3:28 PM EDT

cunneyworthgetty Getty Images

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.

  1. solador78 - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    Maybe the OLF could employ tutors instead of gestapo agents. Just a thought.

  2. canucks18 - Dec 19, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    I don’t think you should be calling them Quebec based “Nationalist” because he is a separatist and in no way does that reflect a Canadian Nationalist

    • solador78 - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:55 PM

      Quebec Nationalism

      “A nation may refer to a community of people who share a common language, culture, ethnicity, descent, and/or history. In this definition, a nation has no physical borders.”

      Canadian Confederation

      “A confederation in modern political terms is a permanent union of political units (ie. nations) for common action in relation to other units.”

  3. hystoracle - Dec 19, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    Quebec is worried more about the Linguistic skills than the Hockey skills of the coach. Explains why their team has so many problems on the ice. Harder to win when you can no longer buy up entire junior leagues just to have the rights to one player.

    • solador78 - Dec 19, 2011 at 5:44 PM

      That would be like asking TFC head coach Aron Winter to speak English!

      Forget politics for a second, communicating with customers in their native language is just good business.

      Next time you’re staying at a resort in Mexico, remember that all the servers learned English just for you.

  4. ribs108 - Dec 19, 2011 at 5:09 PM

    Nice to see that Molson caved in again and apologized for having anything to do with english, just like Esso did when they backed off of naming their convenience stores what they wanted to do. The trick is to get this as much publicity as possible to shine the light on these racists so that they back off and scurry like cockroaches in the kitchen running under the fridge. Let’s get this nonsense viral. What a stain they are on real Canadians. Next they’ll change the team to les quebecois.

  5. michiganhockey11 - Dec 20, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    “English mother F__ker, do you speak it?!”

  6. gscheelar - Dec 20, 2011 at 10:47 AM

    Habs fans in Quebec have conveniently short memories. 16 of Montreal’s Stanley Cup winning teams were coached by Anglophone coaches…remember Scotty Bowman? How about Toe Blake? I am not saying that Cunneyworth is their equal, but at least give the guy a chance. As for the political leaders chirping off about the linguistic abilities of the coach of a hockey team–focus on the real problems in your province. Your infrastructure is in shambles because your entire construction industry is run by organized crime. You treat anglophones like second class citizens and have a xenophobic attitude toward minority groups and immigrants. your economy cannot support the level of entitlement and government services provided. Yeah, I think those are WAY more important that whether a hockey coach can say “Je peux parler avec vous en Francais.”

    This kind of cr@p is one of the many reasons I am glad that I patched over to the Jets when they returned to Winnipeg. I was a Canadiens fan for 35 of my 40 years and could not take this garbage anymore.

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