Dec 21, 2011, 12:07 PM EST
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.
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