Mountains out of Molehills (and Mountains beyond Mountains)

This man is not yelling in French.

And it’s pissing people off.

This is Randy Cunneyworth, the new Interim Head Coach of the Montréal Canadiens, hired after Jacques Martin was dumped by General Manager Pierre Gauthier on Saturday. He’s been an assistant coach with the Habs for a little while, and distinguished himself with a long career in the NHL.

The problem is that Cunneyworth is unilingually Anglophone and that has upset the hard core lingua-fascists over at Impératif Francais (a Gatineau-based organization) and Movement Québec Francais. These groups have, astoundingly, called for a total boycott of all Molson products, though it is unclear if this includes attending Habs games, buying Canadiens ball caps and hoodies etc. And to be fair I’ve never met an ultra-nationalist who drank Molson; Labatt Bleue all the way.

Today Geoff Molson fired back, stating simply that Cunneyworth is a good choice given the disappointing start to the season, and that ultimately, Molson and the Canadiens’ management pays its dues to the fans, the merciless Montréal fans. Thus, they made the call and will consider Cunneyworth’s linguistic abilities (or lack thereof) as part of their on-going search for a permanent coach. If Cunneyworth can manage to teach himself some half-decent French between now and the end of the season, he’ll be in a better position to graduate from interim to head coach. If he manages to bring home the cup, you and I both know no one will give a flying Philadelphia fuck.

That’s the reality. Money talks, and the Habs need to keep attendance and sales up. A new coach may be able to turn the team around, which in my opinion is considerably better for morale in Montréal and Québec than the apparent ‘attack against Franco-Québecois society and culture’ that is a unilingually Anglophone coach.

What’s flat-out retarded is Christine St-Pierre’s decision to weigh in on the issue. The worst thing the PLQ could do was implicate itself in an issue brought up by radical pseudo-linguists. The smart thing to do would be to focus on your job and not the twitter-verse. We’re paying her to improve the condition of women, culture and communications. Well guess what? Women are still not making as much as men (on average, in Canada), our highest high-speed internet is ludicrously expensive and a hundredth of the speed of Korean or Japanese hi-speed and myopic mono-culturalists are raising this Cunneyworth stink in the first place.

C’mon! Get it together!

It’s not the government’s business. Leave the world’s most successful hockey club alone and let them do what they’ve done so well for years. I love government intervention, but not in this case. There’s simply no good reason.

If Cunneyworth and Molson are smart apart and smart together they may conspire to set Cunneyworth down the fast track towards official bilingualism – intensive courses, Bescherelles, subliminal training, whatever it takes.

Point is it’s clear to the capitalists bilingualism in Montreal is vital, but they’re caught between a rock and a hard place managing a losing team that desperately needs to be shaken up. Another fabricated language politics scandal isn’t going to help anyone, especially not the Canadiens.

So, though Cunneyworth may have a hard time expressing himself to the French media, if he wants to keep his job and bring the Habs to the cup, he’ll learn, and quick too. Be patient. Calm down.

And keep this in mind too – there are only three Québecois on the team. Three. They’re all bilingual and have been trained under Cunneyworth for several years now. They all understand him just fine.

We may have birthed the modern game of hockey here in Montréal, we may have the winningest team in NHL history. Hell, we may have even founded the NHL and saw the first Stanley Cup match. But it’s not our game anymore. It’s a multi-national entertainment corporation with assets, capital and international interests. We’re lucky we still retain such a privileged position within the hockey hierarchy, but who are we kidding? Our success spread the game across oceans and united enemies, all this is true. But to play at the international level, you may need to shed provincial attitudes. We are intimately tied to hockey here in Montréal, of this there can be no doubt, and no reasonable person would actually believe an Anglophone acting-coach poses any sort of threat to that cultural institution and element of local national character. Only weak-willed shrill people with a lot of time on their hands would proselytize such nonsense. And it being a slow-news day (Havel who?), our idiotic mainstream media decided to make yet another mountain out of mole-hill.

The self-depricating, self-perpetuating national inferiority complex rearing its ugly head once more.

How do these things happen?

*** Coda ***

Just realized the song Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) would be a great campaign song for when I run for mayor, though I’d somehow need to explain to those congregated that the band (like myself) is critical of the rampant excess of suburbia, and that I’m not generally in favour of dead shopping malls rising with no end in sight.

How’s subtlety doing these days?

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