Montreal Canadiens Reap What They Sow

I'm thoroughly enjoying the schadenfreude moment being experience by the Montreal Canadiens.

In my view, they deserve everything they get. 

From the discriminatory hiring policy to how the organization disgustingly treated former head coach Randy Cunneyworth.

The Habs have decided in their remarkable judgment that in order to coach their hallowed hockey team one must possess prior to working for them a proficient command of the French language. As if this isn't insulting enough, owner Geoff Molson claimed after announcing the hiring Michel Therrien 'no rock was left unturned' in finding the best possible candidate.

Huh. Given the language requirement, this makes mockery of the process. We all know rocks were left unturned. We all know the best coaches in the NHL don't speak French which immediately froze out people like Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, Mike Babcock and a few others. Did they Habs actually try to make us believe Therrien was the best option? I didn't believe it then and certainly don't believe it then.

It's unfortunate to see people struggle but if Therrien (a decent NHL coach) was anything but French-Canadian, and I really hate to say it, he'd be gone by now. Coaches have been fired for much less. Shit, the Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt who hired something like a .760 winning percentage! Some organizations are incorrigible and Cleveland seems to attract its fair share.

I digress.

The language nonsense is toxic enough, again from where I sit, it permitted the media and management to mistreat Cunneyworth like I've rarely seen in sports and for an organization that considers itself and is perceived around the hockey world to be classy, that was a low point. It was anything but classy.

The Montreal Canadiens are fricken hockey team. Not a political and cultural symbol attached to a people as proclaimed. This is nationalist nonsense. As a sports business its sole objective is to make money and win. And you win by having the best resources at your disposal. 

All the Canadiens need to do is drop the pre-condition and simply ask a candidate 'are you willing to take French classes?' Simple and more importantly FAIR.

Those who choose not to, so be it. Those who do, well, you just expanded your talent pool to choose from. It's a simple tactic used in the most global of pro-sports: Soccer. No professional soccer team on the planet worth its salt hampers itself like the Habs do. But some do ask their coaches and players adapt to their surroundings to make their experience easier. Some clubs like AC Milan, provide all the resources necessary including language classes on their grounds for coaches and players to learn Italian as advised. Keep in mind, Milan does not make it a matter of policy since they don't have to as many of their candidates are willing to learn or already possess language skills. It's not uncommon - with the exception of English players - for most players of African origin or South Americans, as well as those of Belgian, Swiss, Serbian, Croatian, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian or French descent to speak two or more languages. 

In some cases, clubs don't even bother and just hire the best as clubs in Austria, Germany and the Irish national side did when they hired the unilingual Giovanni Trappatoni.  

Of course, coaching is but one aspect of their problems (General Manager Marc Bergevin has much to answer for. A candidate, by the way, who was 4th - not 1st or 2nd - 4th on the Chicago Blackhawks depth chart. Hard to imagine the Habs getting Dean Lombardi or Stan Bowman here) but this particular issues doesn't help matters. Moreover, when they did have really good bilingual coaches as was the case with Alain Vigneault and Claude Julien (a winner everywhere he's gone including a Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins), they fired them. 

As long as the Canadiens continue this superficial barrier to entry a myopic, parochial, discriminatory, unprofessional, stupid, inappropriate value system at its core, it will be condemned to a life of mediocrity more often than not.

The Habs are best to recall two words reminding of their sole goal and objective: WIN BABY.

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