Thursday, November 01, 2007

No Wonder Free Agents Avoid Montreal

Quebec City lawyer Guy Bertrand branded Saku Koivu as a criminal for failing "to respect the right of Quebecers to be served in French. So what did he do wrong? He didn't address Montreal hockey fans in French. Sacre bleu!

There's a real ugliness when it comes to language issues in Quebec, as a few zealots seek out platforms to attack people like Koivu for not conforming to their standards.

This entire story is an embarrassment given the lengths Koivu has gone to be a big part of the Canadiens organization. He's the team's captain, it's longest-serving player, and his battle with cancer turned into a crusade to help others, as the Saku Koivu Foundation fundraised millions to provide cancer-treating equipment to a local hospital.

I'm sure every potential hockey free agent has picked up on this story. Good luck to Bob Gainey when he tries to sign some of them next summer.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, right. I'd like to see how you'd react if the Maple Leafs captain only spoke Spanish...

Pseudonym said...

The notion that anyone in Toronto cares what language is spoken by the Leaf captain is absurd.

I wouldn't know if he can even speak English because professional athletes as a group rarely have anything worthwhile to say. So why would I bother to listen.

I can understand why Montreal players may not learn French. Remember they are mercenaries. Although Koivu has been with the team for 12 years, he could be traded tomorrow. Players have been known to play for 3 or 4 teams in one season. European players almost never live in the city where they are employed during the offseason. They learn English only because business in the NHL is conducted in English. Not out of respect to the public where they play. Even in the Montreal dressing room, business is conducted in English.

Yes, he could have learned a few words of French over the past 12 years. Would that bring Montreal closer to a Stanley Cup? Doubt it.

Anonymous said...

You're besides the point.

It's a marketing issue, not a sports one! Of course they wouldn't be closer to the Stanley Cup if Koivu spoke French - but most probably they would sell a hell of a lot more jerseys, caps, t-shirts, tickets, and the TV networks would sell much more ads during the Habs games.