The language and realism barrier

The Montreal Canadiens have long had ties to the Tampa Bay Lightning through, if nothing more, want. What we've had is what they've wanted. Understanding the want is to understand a culture that's divided and proud of its heritage.

The want that we're, as Bolts fans, used to hearing about is the imminent acquisition or free agent signing of Vincent Lecavalier by Les Habs. It's been an acquisition that has been lusted after by some fans of the bleu, blanc et rouge for more than a decade.


The obvious answer is Lecavalier is a good player, and of course Montreal would want a good player on their team. Digging just a mite deeper, you can see that Lecavalier Is from the Montreal suburb of Ile Bizzard. Home-town-boy-makes-good, of course they want the local product playing at home.

It's a little more complicated than that, though. It's a matter of local pride, it's a matter of provincial nationalism, it's a matter of heritage.

It's a matter of Vinny speaking both English and French.

A prerequisite for respect and admiration from Montreal fans is to be a francophone, a native French speaker. The first step to superstardom with the franchise is to be Québécois, too.

Thus why there was lust for Lecavalier in the past, and there is current discontent over interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth in Montreal. You see, Cunneyworth doesn't just go against the grain by not being Québécois, but he's also an anglophone - an English speaker. He doesn't speak French in a province where a large percentage of the population doesn't speak English. That's not exactly a pragmatic situation, is it? While that's an issue that could easily be remedied with patience and understanding (and a translator)... Well, it's not going to be understood. It's not going to be tolerated. Quebec will have none of it.

It's less of an issue of wins-and-losses and X's-and-O's as the primary critique of a coach, and it's instead an issue of cultural heredity that has long been a necessity to oversee Les Habitants de Montreal. Look at the list of head coaches of the Canadiens and you will see it dominated by Québécois. Oh, sure, there are exceptions (Bob Gainey, Pat Burns) but that's been aberration, not the norm.

This all leads back to the Lightning, but not Vinny this time around.

You see, there was a tweet earlier today by Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski, pointing out gambling odds on certain people being hired by the Habs as the franchise's next head coach:

Bodog odds for Habs coach: 2/1 for Patrick Roy; Clément Jodoin- 5/2; Bob Hartley- 5/1; Most interesting: Guy Boucher 20/1, Therrien 40/1

This is why I brought up Les Habs situation with their coach. Not because of taking gambling odds as anything more than speculation, but because of the Lightning's ties (through multiple hirings by GM Steve Yzerman in 2010) to the Canadiens.

Boucher and assistant coaches Martin Raymond and Dan Lacroix, as well as assistant GM Julien BriseBois, all worked for the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL - the Canadiens minor league affiliate. Raymond and Boucher both have ties to McGill University in Montreal (Raymond as coach, Boucher as a player, student, and assistant coach).

While Boucher is the attention grabbing name who once seemed heir apparent to the job in Montreal, it's not realistic to expect the Habs to chase after him as a coaching candidate. No, the realistic options are Raymond and Lacroix (who was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders in the past). Both men have all the prerequisites (Francophones from Quebec), minus the big-name appeal that Boucher, or Patrick Roy, or Michel Therrien, or even Jacques Lemaire, would bring to the table.

Realism and speculation involving the Montreal Canadiens have never gone together well, though.

Whatever the case, Tampa Bay has graduated from the past rampant Lecavalier-to-Montreal rumors to Boucher-to-Montreal hearsay. Hearsay which, once it takes root, may spread quickly with the rise and fall of the Canadiens as well as the successes and failings of the Lightning under Boucher.

Remember, failings wouldn't necessarily silence speculation... He's a Québécois, and that means he's a winner to start. Make him a Canadien, and he'd be a champion