Sunday, March 1, 2009

Bob Gainey- Enemy of Francophone Players

Although it took a couple of years, it was bound to happen. Bob Gainey, general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, has been accused of having it in for French Quebeckers.
I was listening to sports commentator P.J. Stock on the radio yesterday when he played a tape of a the Canadiens general manager's press conference. While Gainey discussed the Steve begin trade, he took a question from a very indignant and rude reporter (I don't know who) who questioned why he was getting rid of Francophone Quebec players. I carefully noted that the reporter didn't say Quebecois players, but quite specifically 'francophone' Quebecois players. I guess it wouldn't matter if Gainey traded away an anglophone Quebecois.
As we all know, in Quebec language trumps everything, including good sense and even in sports. Apparently the number of Francophone Quebecois players on the team is more important than winning. The above-mentioned reporter's attitude is not at all isolated, in fact it is pretty much the norm.
In Saturday's La Presse, writer Réjean Tremblay goes over the checklist of francophone players on the Canadiens and laments on the impending shortage. Oddly, he makes no reference to skill in the whole article.
Over at the Journal de Montreal , there is a lively discussion in the sports forums, discussing whether Montreal Canadiens hockey players should be forced to learn French. Below is a humourous post in that thread.

Subject: Re: Les jouers du Canadien devraient-ils apprendre le francais?
"Qu'est-ce que les Quebecois veulent, une équipe gagnante ou bilingue? Est-ce que le fait que les joueurs parlent français vont les aider à scorer des buts dans le net avec la puck? Je m'excuse, j'aurais du écrire marquer ou compter des buts avec le disque ou la rondelle!"

At least some people see the humour in the subject!

Coming after last year's brouhaha concerning Saku Koivu's lack of French, it's no wonder that many NHLer's are crossing Montreal off as a place to play. Canadiens lack of success at last year's free agent market last year was clear evidence that few will freely choose to play here. There are even some francophone Quebecois who see Montreal as a place to avoid. (Vincent Lecavalier, Simon Gagne etc.).

Unfortunately, there are many Quebeckers who would prefer an all Francophone team to one that's competitive. Plus ca change......
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