Sunday, 8 January 2012

More Montreal Chatter

Randy Cunneyworth be appointed to head coach in Montreal has been a lightning road for fans, media, and people across the continent as it seems that his not knowing French has polarized all people who are following the story. I've had my say on the situation, and I still feel that Cunneyworth should be given a shot when it comes to allowing him to right the good ship Canadiens. Others, especially those in the province of Quebec, have condemned Cunneyworth over his anglophone upbringing. Whether you feel that Cunneyworth's coaching job should be decided over his choice of spoken language or not, one thing is clear: the polarization of people over this subject is clearly not going away.

Today, I'm lucky enough to have Peter Santellan of the fabulous blog, Pucks and Rocks, pen an article for HBIC. Mr. Santellan looks at validity of the language issue when it comes to Mr. Cunneyworth's job, and he makes some very good points. Also, with his article, he becomes the odds-on favorite to win some awesome prizes as January's blogger of the month on HBIC. More on this below, but here's Peter's article.

"Of late, I have had to say a few things about the coaching carousel in the NHL. Obviously, the comings and goings don't cover any ground that hasn't been covered for the most part. However, the Montreal Canadiens' coaching situation has been more than just about the record, it's been about whether the coach can speak French on some level. To get you up to speed if you haven't been following, the Canadiens fired Jacques Martin and replaced him with Randy Cunneyworth on an interim basis. One problem: Cunneyworth doesn't speak a word of French. Now, leave it to the people of Quebec to go up in arms about this move to the point of planning a protest before a game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning. In a recent article, General Manager Pierre Gauthier apologized for this and promised a French speaking coach for next season.

"The problem has many layers. The most important thing to remember about the coaching situation in Montreal is that Cunneyworth is an INTERIM coach, meaning that he doesn't have to stay with Montreal if he doesn't want to (if he does win most of his games). As for the people of Quebec who protest not having a French-speaking coach, you had two coaches who made the Stanley Cup Finals last year in Vancouver (Alain Vigneault) and Boston (Claude Julien). Both of them were coach of the Canadiens at one point or another. More recently, there was Guy Carbonneau, who led Montreal to their best regular season finish in 2008. For one reason or another, all three were let go, and while Carbonneau hasn't had a coaching job since Montreal, it isn't exactly coincidence that Vigneault and Julien have found success once they left Montreal. Now, throw in Guy Boucher, who was the coach at Hamilton, the Canadiens' AHL affiliate (and who Cunneyworth replaced prior to being an assistant coach for Montreal), and Kirk Muller, who had played for Montreal when they last won the Stanley Cup, and the Canadiens' coaching situation looks worse. Now, looking at the potential prospects for the Canadiens that speak French on some level, and the pickings are rather slim. Unless Jacques Lemaire somehow comes out of retirement and is not asked by New Jersey to fill in as coach, the Canadiens have practically dug themselves a hole that they will have a difficult time getting out of, and given that Cunneyworth could very well be going to a team like Columbus, who I suspect will be looking for a new coach at some point, the Canadiens and their fans are destined to lose in any language."

Great points, Peter, and you've certainly hit the nail on the head when it comes to the successes that Vigneault and Julien have experienced since being dismissed by the Montreal Canadiens. It's hard to imagine that the Canadiens will have a ton of success if they are pushing the French language as priority-one over an actual coaching strategy, but who am I to question Pierre Gauthier?

If you're interested in possibly getting some awesome prizes for a little work, scribe an article and send it in! I'll post it, and I'll award the best guest post of the month a prize! You can write about anything hockey-related, and I'll feature it as soon as I receive it! Just send it here, and I'll load it up on HBIC!

Great post today, Peter, and I totally agree that the best coach, regardless of laguage, should be appointed to the Canadiens' bench. Once hired, if he isn't very good with the French language, he should be given the chance to improve himself. But the job of head coach should come down to how well he or she knows the game, and everything else - within reason - should come second. Seems elementary to me, no?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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