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Demonstrators protest unilingual coach outside Bell Centre

Jan 7, 2012, 8:50 PM EDT

Canadiens Language Hockey AP

There’s a game going on in Montreal at the Bell Centre tonight. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Montreal Canadians are battling it out on Hockey Night in Canada for some much needed points in the Eastern Conference playoff race. But outside the building, there were a few hundred protesters who cared more about the coach behind the bench than the team on the ice. More specifically, they cared more about the language the coach speaks when addressing players and the media.

Mouvement Quebec francais president Mario Beaulieu released a statement to accompany Saturday evening’s demonstration. Via the Montreal Gazette: “The Montreal Canadiens management does not respect the status of French as Quebec’s official language,” Beaulieu said. “The music played in the Bell Centre is English. All announcements made in the arena are bilingual. There are only two or three francophone players left on the team. And now they have named a head coach who doesn’t speak a word of French. Not even ‘Bonjour’.”

Anyone who thought this language debate had cooled was sadly mistaken. As if Randy Cunneyworth’s job wasn’t difficult enough as he tried to turn things around for the mediocre Habs, he has hundreds of people outside the arena protesting because he doesn’t speak the right language. To some of the folks on the street, winning is secondary to the organization representing Quebecois culture.

General manager Pierre Gauthier has already publically apologized. Owner Geoff Molson (who is now tweeting in both languages) has already said that the head coaching position will be re-evaluated at the end of the season. Still, as long as Cunneyworth is behind the bench, there will be those who will publically voice their displeasure.

  1. buddylove75 - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:02 PM

    Who cares about this third world city with a team that hasn’t won since positive K was on the radio ever other song.

    • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:25 PM

      Third World city? I don’t like the Habs but Montreal is a great city. These jerkoffs just make it look bad.

  2. rarelyshaves - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:16 PM

    so are french canadian elitists like the tea party of canada?

    just really obnoxious reactionaries who focus on marginal issues to the dismay and overall annoyance of everyone else?

    • Brian - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:31 PM

      Yeah, pretty much. Thankfully they’re largely confined to Quebec.

  3. mtm1321 - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:19 PM

    Completely absurd.

  4. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:25 PM

    You’d think these idiots would have gotten tired of embarrassing their city by now.

  5. acieu - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:29 PM

    Feckin frogs

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 8, 2012 at 2:50 AM

      No need to stoop even lower than their level. Name-calling sucks.

  6. wethog66 - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:31 PM

    This just in, intolerance is alive and well in Montreal.

  7. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - Jan 7, 2012 at 9:34 PM


  8. titknocker - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Hope they don’t riot & burn the city down like Vancouver.

    • kitshky - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:31 PM

      Umm … I’m pretty sure Montreal has the whole riot thing down all on their own pal. #pickupahistorybook

    • tommytd - Jan 7, 2012 at 11:51 PM

      These folks need to get a life!

  9. goalie007 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:11 PM

    Stupid. Their team hasn’t won jack squat since 1993, but they’re flipping out that the coach doesn’t speak French. Ridiculous…

  10. stakex - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    That Mario Beaulieu guy is a complete and utter idiot. He reminds me of the American elitist morons in this country that want English to be our official language, and complain when they see things writen in English and some other language.

    Get a life people.

  11. hank10 - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    If they were really serious they would have made the press release in French only. And if Cunneyworth would have given a Bonjour once in a while, they’d probably get their shorts in a bunch because he did not pronounce it the ‘correct’ way. Frauds.

  12. istallion - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    Very very sad. I want Montreal to get the best coach not the best speaker of French.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jan 8, 2012 at 3:04 AM

      As a Leafs fan, I fully support these folks in their quest to limit their team to the best available bilingual coach instead of the best available coach. Better for the rest of us. Heaven forbid their French media assign bilingual reporters to cover the Habs and simply translate what the coach says. Or that the Quebecois finally admit they lost the war in 1760 and learn to speak English too! Mon dieu!! No, better to keep living in their fantasy world where Quebec becomes a separate nation and they can banish the foreigners they dislike so much.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Jan 8, 2012 at 3:24 PM

        ^ best comment ^

  13. buffalowned - Jan 7, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    This is why everyone hates French Canadians. D bags

    • buffalowned - Jan 7, 2012 at 11:16 PM

      sorry but it’s true. they care more about post game interviews than the product on the ice. it’s an embarrassment to the city and makes the fans look like ignorant snobs

      • buffalowned - Jan 7, 2012 at 11:19 PM

        and for the record randy cunneyworth is trying very hard to learn french with the limited amount of free time he has. that’s what these clowns have him focusing on instead of how he can help the team perform better. if i were him i wouldn’t even want to deal with this he should coach one of the other 29 teams that are tolerant of an english speaking coach

  14. 8man - Jan 7, 2012 at 11:31 PM

    Torn. Montreal has a rich French history and the team has unmatched heritage of success in the NHL. The residents are proud of both. Based on what I know about the ferocity this city has in protecting it’s French heritage, this does not surprise me.

    I would say this to Habs fans, you want the best man for the job, regardless of what language he speaks. That, and deep down I believe most Habs fans just care about winning and not about how much of a linguist the coach of their beloved Canadiens is.

    Now keep the working girls warm and the Cubans available until I get back up there.

  15. shukey11 - Jan 7, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Hell if the leafs ever get a bilingual coach I’ll protest just to prove a point to those frogs… In Montreal ignorance isn’t bliss is religion

  16. goforthanddie - Jan 8, 2012 at 1:27 AM

    Le waaaahhh?

  17. numbcracker2109 - Jan 8, 2012 at 1:50 AM

    Oh the horror.

  18. muckthefets23 - Jan 8, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    Reading this makes me wanna puke! Seriously it’s hockey! Not a tour group at the damn louvre for gods sake! As much as I dislike the Canadiens as a Flyers fan, this guy is doing everything he can to win, which last time I checked is the main objective.

    La lecture de ce qui me donne envie de vomir! Sérieusement c’est le hockey! Pas un groupe de touristes au Louvre sacrément pour l’amour des dieux! Autant que je n’aime pas les Canadiens comme un fan Flyers, ce gars-là fait tout ce qu’il peut pour gagner, ce qui la dernière fois que j’ai vérifié est l’objectif principal.

    I hope this is acceptable to the damn French Canadians since its in both languages…

  19. rainyday56 - Jan 8, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    Great Expansion came 25 years too late. Beliveau and Richard could have been prototypical Pittsburgh Penguins. It could have avoided that first riot and left the Habs mediocre and the non factor in the hockey world that they are now, save for this BS …

  20. tommytd - Jan 8, 2012 at 9:40 AM

    Just about the time he finishes learning the language he’ll be relieved of his position and rehired by a team down here! What a non-story – Montreal & Vancouver…the pride of the NHL! LOL

  21. kingjoe1 - Jan 8, 2012 at 10:18 AM

    Protester pour un entraîneur bilingue est arrogant et triste. Je suppose que nous nous attendons à rien de moins des gens oubliés de Montréal. Une ville sans signification avec des histoires oublieux.
    Si une ville a dû être détruite pour réaliser la paix du monde, Montréal doit être dans le top 3.

    For the non-insane jerks –

    Protesting for a bilingual coach is arrogant and sad. I suppose we expect nothing less from the forgotten people of Montreal. A meaningless city with forgetful histories.
    If one city had to be destroyed to bring about world peace, Montreal has to be in the top 3.

  22. east96st - Jan 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    I have a solution for the misery of two cities. Send the Blue Jackets to Montreal, fire Arneil, and give them a French speaking coach. Send the Canadians to Columbus and we don’t care if the coach speaks Chinese, as long as he is semi-competent. This way, Montreal will have a horrible team with inept management that NO French speaking coach can help and will never win BUT has the critical French speaking coach. After all, that’s what’s important, right? And Columbus has a team and a management group that has an outside chance of winning a playoff game in the next decade. Win-win for both cities.

  23. eagleswineagleswin - Jan 9, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Who cares about these fools. Fench Canadiens are pussies

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