To say there has been some criticism surrounding the hiring of Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth is an understatement.
Cunneyworth has been a lightning rod for criticism, although it’s been for all the wrong reasons. Much of the French media, along with the province of Quebec’s culture minister, have criticized the Canadiens organization for hiring a coach that doesn’t speak French, and general manager Pierre Gauthier gave validity to these criticisms when he apologized for not hiring a French-speaking head coach.
But as outrageous as that may seem, Cunneyworth is also under a lot of scrutiny because of a much more legitimate reason. He’s not helping the team win many games.
The Habs are 6-9-2 since Cunneyworth’s hiring on December 17, and despite their recent success, aren’t winning enough to warrant Cunneyworth being named the full-time head coach, especially if he can’t speak French.
Is it fair that Cunneyworth is held to a higher win-loss standard because he doesn’t speak French?
Of course not, but it’s the reality of his situation and the majority of those that follow the Canadiens closely don’t think he’ll return as head coach at the start of the 2012-13 season.
So if Montreal wants to hire a head coach they feel can help them win games and that also speaks French, who should their first choice be?
Here are the top five French-speaking candidates that might be suitable to take over as head coach of the most scrutinized franchise in all of hockey that aren’t already holding down NHL coaching gigs.