On Hockey and Language

I know I am going to get hell from someone for this post, but so be it, I’ve had to listen to the same circular arguments since Saturday a.m. and I’m annoyed.

First, my own personal opinion: The head coach of the Montreal Canadiens should be the best man (or, imagine, woman) available for the job. If that person also happens to speak French, then all the better.

It seems so simple doesn’t it? Best person for the job. It’s the motto that most companies use when hiring.

Francois Gagnon was on TSN990 this morning and gave the example “If Alain Vignault or Claude Julien didn’t speak English, could they coach in Vancouver of Boston”. I almost crashed my car into a wall when I heard that. Of course they couldn’t coach in Vancouver or Boston. They couldn’t coach ANYWHERE. You know why? Because the language of the NHL locker room is English.

The thing is, hockey in Montreal needs to stop being politicized… in fact:


I’ve said it before, but why does the argument for a French speaking coach not apply to the Alouettes? Marc Trestman doesn’t speak French (p.s. He’s won 3 Grey Cups with the Als). Here’s what I think: The Alouettes aren’t really a Quebec team, they are an English team. But the Habs, Les Habitants, Les Canadiens de Montreal, les bleus blanc et rouge, ils sont les Quebecois. C’est l’équipe de Maurice, Henri et Jean. Les Canadiens représentent les VRAI Québécois. Ils sont des gars qui travaillent aux usines par jour et la patinoire de nuit.

Sorry my friends –times have changed. The days of young French Canadian boys toiling in the blue collar jobs, while their anglo counterparts roll in their millions is over.

Can we set all that loaded history aside?

I drove past the Bell Centre on my way to work this morning and was actually fearful that someone would have defaced the building. I’m fearful that something that is meant to be entertainment is going to bring language-politics into the forefront again. As an anglo Quebecer, I’m tired of it all. I’m tired of being told that to be Québecois you need to be French. I’m tired of going out to eat, speaking French, and the waiter asking me where I am from. I’m tired of being told, “you don’t understand, it’s our culture”.

It’s my culture too. And part of my culture is having a successful hockey team.

There is separation of Church and State. Can we have separation of State and Hockey?




4 comments for “On Hockey and Language

  1. December 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    yes. I by active I meant not on IR.

  2. December 23, 2011 at 8:51 am

    @martin Thanks :)

    @Geoff Well there is also Darche and Desharnais :) But yes, language politics drives me crazy on so many levels. It’s tiring and pointless when it comes to hockey. Hockey is supposed to by our unifier, not divider.

  3. December 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    The politics of language is one of the big reasons I left Quebec. I think this type of petty linguistic squabbling is ridiculous. Having said that, the Canadiens were formed to give French Quebeckers a team of their own to cheer for as a counter-point to the successful englisih team the Montreal Maroons. If language is going to be an issue, they should bemoan the fact that they only have one Québecois on the active roster in Louis Leblanc. Hockey is an international sport now, time to grow up.

  4. Martin
    December 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Well said, Steph

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