Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Gainey, Boivin and Gauthier at yesterday's press conference (Photo from newsobserver.com).

posted by: habsbloggergirl

I've been reading a lot about Gainey's stepping-down lately, and it seems that a lot of people are concerned about the language debate that seems to be so intricately connected to the hiring of a new GM, just as it has been with hiring a coach, and even naming a captain.

A lot of people, especially in the anglophone and international communities, are really against the Canadiens' (well Boivin's) policy of hiring people only if they speak French, so I thought I would try to give a bit of a different perspective, although I too am anglophone and living in Quebec.

I don't completely support this policy... I don't think it's fair that otherwise qualified people are being denied positions based on their language skills. But, just because I don't think it's fair doesn't mean I don't think it's right. Although I feel this way, I can't deny the fact that we are living in Quebec where the majority of the population is francophone. It is often hard for anglophones to get jobs when they don't speak both languages, but then again, the opposite it often true as well.

The thing is, I don't see the problem with hiring a GM based partially on the fact that he is French-speaking, I see a problem with hiring one solely on that fact (which I don't think was the case for Gauthier, since he is experienced and is already a part of the organization).

Think about it, there is a large amount of both English and French media, and it's a huge bonus for the GM to be able to speak both languages. Most fans who watch these press conferences probably also want to or don't mind seeing it in both languages. Personally, I watch both, and would even say I watch more in French than in English in terms of media coverage and the like. To me the language isn't a big deal because I understand both, but for those who don't it proves to be more of a problem.

As long as the person is qualified (and Gauthier gives us no reason to think he is not), I honestly don't care whether the GM speaks English, French, Chinese or Russian. As long as he does a good job, it doesn't matter, right? Maybe. But all things considered, it would simplify the lives of many people if he spoke both languages; the media especially, but a lot of fans as well.

I think that ultimately if it came down to it, they would be able to work out a way for the GM not to be French-speaking, but this would require more work on the part of others in the organization, and I understand them wanting everything to be as simplified at each level as possible.

We may be seeing this as unjust and unfair bias, but imagine if you were French-speaking only. It would be equally unfair to that person if the guy giving the press conferences does not speak a word of French. We are a bilingual city, so although I think Boivin dealt with this in entirely the wrong manner, I understand where he is coming from in wanting to hire someone bilingual.

Personally, I think he just talks too much. I don't think he should have even mentioned the language issue at all, since there was really no need to. He could have just said Pierre Gauthier was the assistant GM and it just made sense to keep him since he had previous GM experience. But no, Boivin had to go on and on... I think a team president should know when to say things and know when to remain tight lipped. By his behaviour in the past few weeks (saying that Laraque was leaving, that Halak would be gone, and now this), I think that he doesn't know when to keep quiet. He needs to stop talking, because if he doesn't, I think the Canadiens will be in big trouble. Maybe he should take a page from Bob Gainey's book... I think he could really learn something.