Tue Jan 03 04:43pm EST
In a perfect hockey world -- i.e. one in which hatred of a rival doesn't trump a feelgood story -- every fan in the NHL would be pulling for Randy Cunneyworth to succeed as Montreal Canadiens coach.
First, because he played for the Whale, and is therefore something close to royalty. Second, because he's yet another hard-working, blue collar guy who has to deal with a complete jack-wagon for a boss.
As you may have heard, Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier folded under the pressure from the growing Francophone protests about his hiring of Cunneyworth as interim (emphasis ours) coach, the first Habs bench boss not to also speak French in 40 years.
"We're disappointed and we're sorry if we offended anybody by hiring someone who is not bilingual right now, but when you're in the middle of a season and you're trying to effect change and you're having the difficulties we were having, you evaluate all your options," said Gauthier.
"We felt the best option at this time was to work from within the organization. Those things can be taken care of in due time, but having a bilingual head coach of the Montreal Canadiens is very important and it's something that will be part of our decision going forward.".
Gauthier said that if Randy Cunneyworth learned French, then perhaps he could be a candidate to stay on as head coach.
So Randy Cunneyworth said on Tuesday that he's learning French, via the CP:
'With any team, it can be uncertain if you don't win or accomplish the goals you set forth,'' he said. ''I'm working hard to pick up the language as much as I can and as quickly as I can.
''Hopefully that will be the case by the time some of the decisions are made. A lot will depend on how successful this team is and that's really my priority right now. The language is secondary, but very important as well for me because I think it's an important marketplace where I'd love to be able to address everybody in both languages and talk to everybody concerning hockey.''
So it's a race against time! Randy Cunneyworth, picking up French hockey terms from players and employees, trying to be able to order a full meal in a bistro before the axe falls! Get this man a Rosetta Stone and a copy of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors trilogy, stat!
Again, we want nothing more than for Cunneyworth to turn this team around, win a round in the playoffs and then enter the GM's office singing "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien." Alas, the team is 1-6-0 under him and fighting in practice and not really looking all that good. It's entirely possible he'll be swapped out for a bilingual replacement before he learns how to conjugate a verb.