MONTREAL - I am blessed to speak both English and French, and every day I listen to our local sports channel on AM 730 in French.
Every now and then (too often), I hear the redundant subject of discussion about the fact that the Montreal Canadiens don't have enough Quebec native players.
Every time I hear this, I feel heat on my ears, my heart rate skyrockets to 200 beats per minute, and I feel like screaming...I don't know why...NOT!
I'll tell you why I feel that way. Yes, Quebec produces great hockey players. Just look at Mario Lemieux, Martin Brodeur, Daniel Brière to name just a few. But here, in Montreal, the mass population would like to have 20 Quebec native players on the team and this, even if it means to get the second-best player available.
Gainey tried to bring Daniel Brière in Montreal, but Brière decided to go play in Philadelphia. Plain and simple, French Canadian players already playing for other teams DO NOT WANT to play in Montreal. Why? Fans (or so-called fans) are completely out of their minds. Here are two examples.
The first is defenseman Patrice Brisebois, who started his career in Montreal and played for many years. Like any other players in any teams, he had some difficulties in few games but overall was a good defenseman.
Montreal Canadiens "Fans" were always on his back and eventually booed him out of Montreal. Everybody were saying "good riddance!" Last year, Patrice returned to Montreal and guess what? He had a standing ovation when he was introduced at the first game at the Bell Centre.
The second example is right wing Alex Kovalev. Last year, Alex had some problems producing points. Everybody wanted him crucified and traded. At the end of the 2006-2007 season, I was listening to the radio and 99.999 percent of callers to a radio show were saying "The team has to get rid of Kovalev."
This year, Kovalev was the team's top scorer and played amazing all year. Guess what? 99.999 percent of callers said the Kovalev is untouchable.
It looks like these so-called "fans" are suffering from bipolarity.
I was listening to that same show this morning and everybody were saying that the Canadiens HAVE to draft Quebec native players.
I haven't missed many Habs games this year, and I saw Latendresse and Lapierre play. Frankly, I wasn't impressed.
Latendresse skates with a grand piano on his back and a fridge tied to his skates. Lapierre works hard but plays like a headless chicken. To be honest, I would rather have Teemu Selanne than these two guys.
This has been a major problem for the team for many years now. How many times have I heard complaints about the fact that Koivu doesn't speak French, or that there are not enough "Quebecois" on the team?
The fans says a coach MUST speak French to be behind the bench. A politician even tried to get involved.
I understand that people want to preserve their language and heritage, but they also need to face reality.
Hockey is a business. The Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club is owned by an American, the business language is ENGLISH but more importantly, language has NOTHING to do with the performance of a player or a coach.
As long as the organisation will keep bend over to satisfy these "fans" and make sure they have a minimum of French Canadian players, make sure that the coach speaks French, even if it means to get 2nd best for that reason, the Montreal Canadiens will only come close to going all the way.