From the moment he was promoted, Montreal Canadiens interim coach Randy Cunneyworth has been assailed by some French-speaking fans and media for being an "unilingual Anglophone" in a job that they feel required a bilingual coach.
The primary language being French; the other language, we imagine, being optional.
The ante will be raised by the opposition to Cunneyworth's hiring on Jan. 7, 2012, when the Canadiens host the glorious French-speaking Guy Boucher, his French-speaking captain Vinny Lecavalier and the Tampa Bay Lightning. That's when there will be a protest organized at Bell Centre again the Habs' "Anglicization policy." (s/t PHT)
Via Newswire.ca (in French), Mouvement Québec Français and Mouvement Montréal Français are organizing the event. Christine Roger, the sports editor for Yahoo! Sports Quebec, gives a synopsis:
They will give Quebec flags to each and everyone and people will show their opinion by waving them during the game. They said that Geoff Molson and Pierre Gauthier don't respect the fact that French is a common language in Quebec. They are giving examples like the music the play in Bell Centre, all announcements made in the arena are Bilingual, the fact that there are only a few French players on the team… and now, having an Anglo as head coach.
The horror! If you speak the language, read her take on the matter here.
Cunneyworth is 0-3-0 as the Habs' head coach, so all of this ancillary nonsense from an aggrieved minority probably isn't helping with the transition — especially when Molson puts out statements that proclaim "the ability of the head coach to express himself in both French and English will be a very important factor in the selection of a permanent head coach," and Cunneyworth isn't sure how to pronounce escargot.
(If you haven't read it, Yahoo! Sports' Nick Cotsonika had a nice piece on the Montreal coach/language issue with input from Scotty Bowman.)
This of course isn't the first time Bell Centre has been used for a political protest rally: Remember the Alex Kovalev rally that promised 18,000 people and delivered around 100? Our advice: Don't buy the Quebec flags in bulk.
Otherwise, we look forward to witnessing a robust protest that Randy Cunneyworth won't understand a word of.