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Carbonneau: Cunneyworth needs to learn French

Dec 21, 2011, 12:07 PM EDT

Carbonneau Getty

The media’s already weighed in on Montreal hiring Randy Cunneyworth as its interim head coach.

Now a franchise icon is taking his turn.

Guy Carbonneau — who won a Stanley Cup playing for the Habs and earned a Jack Adams nomination as their coach — said he understands Cunneyworth’s plight, but knows any Montreal bench boss must be able to speak French.

“He’s living a dream, which is doing what he loves for one of the best franchises in the NHL, and he’s caught in a storm,” Carbonneau told the Associated Press. “It’s premature. You have to give him a chance to show what he can do and if he’s willing to learn.

“But there’s no doubt in my mind that the coach of the Montreal Canadiens has to speak both languages, at least to some extent.”

Carbonneau isn’t the first ex-Hab to speak out about the Cunneyworth hire. Former player and general manager Serge Savard blasted the move, saying the Canadiens “belong to the people.” That’s a sentiment shared by many Quebeckers, though it’s unfair to put Carbonneau’s comments in that category. If anything, his take was more analytical than critical.

“It’s one thing to say he’s willing to learn it and another to actually learn it,” Carbonneau said. “The job he has now is really demanding. You have to prepare the team. You have to eat and sleep. I don’t know where learning French is going to fit in his schedule.”

Cunneyworth — who noted he took French in high school — has said he’s hoping to learn the language.

  1. anotheryx - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Based on their performance from last couple of games, I’d suggest Cunneyworth needs to learn how to coach. But guess I have my priorities all mixed up.

  2. sknut - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Why all the hate on Cunneyworth, he didn’t hire himself. And as fans wouldn’t you want your team to hire the best possible coach not just the one that fits to your cultural expectations. I just don’t understand.

  3. rwmilli - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Habs media and fans are a joke, all this backlash is sure going to attract other great coaches and or players….

  4. seaner44 - Dec 21, 2011 at 12:37 PM

    What a bunch of crazies. With the roster they have (three bilingul players) i would say the most important language to speak is how to win and not how to order a creme brule en francais.

  5. IainRWB - Dec 21, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    I think it’s only polite to learn the language. Same as you should learn Spanish if you coach sports in Mexico and German if you coach in Germany.

    • stakex - Dec 23, 2011 at 12:33 AM

      Its it perhaps a nice gesture a coach could make? Ok, sure. However the Montreal fans are making it the central issues with Cunneyworth, which is idiotic. You want your team to win, and it shouldn’t matter if the coach speaks Swahili so long as the team is winning.

      Besides, the comparison to someone coaching in Mexico isn’t quite that accurate. While French in Montreal’s official language, and the majority of people do speak it over English…. most people in Montreal CAN speak/understand English. Such is not the case in most parts of Mexico.

  6. hank10 - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:17 PM

    I take it the fans/media reaction if seen in public would be something like this?

  7. crazemastercraze - Dec 21, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    my god, Francophones couldn’t be anymore cry babyish if they tried! nobody is trying to take your culture away from you! if they were truly concerned about it, then why not fire the entire team and fill it with french canadians exclusively? seems like they’re more concerned with culture than they are winning, but then, most french canadian nationalists want their cake and the option to eat it too!

  8. stakex - Dec 23, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    For a city that often is played up as the Pinnacle of the hockey world in North America (perhaps the world), Montreal seems to find itself in the center of many of the most idiotic hockey stories of late. From launching a (very long) criminal investigation into a simple hockey play to screaming for a coaches head simply for the language he speaks Montreal seems to be full of idiots with little understand/respect of the sport. If I was a Montreal fan I would be discraced with my city, from a hockey point of view.

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