Originally posted on Rumors and Rants  |  Last updated 12/20/11


Randy Cunneyworth was named interim coach of the Montreal Canadiens this weekend when the team fired Jacques Martin. Cunneyworth is Canadian so one could assume that a Canadian coaching the Canadiens would be enough to placate the fan base.

Ah, but you see these are Canadiens, not Canadians.

And those French Canadians are particularly prickly customers.

Guy Carbonneau, the former Canadiens player and coach, insists that being a Canuck isn’t nearly enough. Cunneyworth should learn to speak French too, and as quickly as possible.

“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 said. “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.”

The Toronto-born Cunneyworth is the first Canadiens’ English-only speaking coach since Al McNeil in the 1970-71 season. The last coach who wasn’t fully bilingual was Bob Berry from 1981-84, though he was at least able to tell players to crash the net and order snails off a menu.

Carbonneau eluded to a ‘storm’ since Cunneyworth’s hiring. That would be the backlash from nationalist groups calling for the boycott of Molson products (the Molsons own the Canadiens). They must be serious if Canadians are willing to boycott beer to make a point.

French Canadians are always a little off. They pretty much are a bunch of Celine Dion groupies who refuse to acknowledge they live in the middle of North America. Back in 1980 and 1995, Quebec tried to become its own country with its own government, basically splitting Canada into two. That failed. Yet in 2006, the Canadian House of Commons passed a symbolic motion recognizing “Quebecois as a nation within a unified Canada.”

In Canada, it’s law that signs/labels are published in both English and French. As a frequent visitor of the Great White North as a child, I learned most of my French vocabulary via candy wrappers.

Montreal lost its first two games under Cunneyworth (if I’ve refrained from making an oral sex joke this long, it’s not happening). The losses haven’t helped the English-speaking coach’s claim to the gig, and has only lent credence to the French elitists.

The French-language newspaper Le Journal de Montreal ran the front page headline “Another Loss for Cunneyworth,” in English. You know, just so the new coach understood.

Yeesh. Talk about giving the middle finger.

Succumbing to the pressure, Canadiens team owner Geoff Molson has promised that Cunneyworth’s permanent replacement must be bilingual.

So for Christmas, Cunneyworth has asked Santa for a French Rosetta Stone. That, and a crap load of Molson Ice.

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