French at the Rangers: if it was Guy Lafleur, it would have been flying!

French at the Rangers: if it was Guy Lafleur, it would have been flying!

When I heard that the New York Rangers had prevented Alexis Lafrenière from answering questions from colleague Jean-François Chaumont in French, I couldn’t help but imagine what would have happened if, in 1988-89 , the Blue Shirts prevented Guy Lafleur from doing an interview in French. It would have flown!

That being said, I in no way blame Lafrenière. The Quebec winger is still in his first steps in the Bettman circuit and he has not yet reached a status allowing him to oppose certain decisions of the organization.

I would even go so far as to say that I don’t blame the Rangers in general. The public relations team, it was explained to Jean-François, only applied the rule imposed by the general manager that all interviews must be done in English so that he could understand everything says himself about his team.

Excuse me, but we are talking here about a man in full power trip !

In 1988-1989, I was the coach of the Rangers and I managed Guy, just like Marcel Dionne, Lucien Deblois, Michel Petit, Dave Pichette and Normand Rochefort. Never, ever, did Phil Esposito prevent Quebecers from answering questions in French.

If we had dared to make this kind of request to Guy or Marcel, I can assure you of one thing, it is not the public relations experts who would have had the last word.

It’s not complicated, I can already imagine Guy arriving in the general manager’s office to say to him: “Don’t you want me to speak French with the media in my native province? Perfect, trade me. »

I would have loved Lafrenière to hold his own. But I also understand very well the delicate situation in which he found himself.


Besides, I have a question. If a Russian journalist arrives in New York and wishes to speak with Artemi Panarin, will we really dare to oblige the star player of the organization to speak in a language other than that of his native country? To ask the question, is to answer it.

Again, I go back to my years in the NHL. It would have been simply unthinkable to ask one of the three Stastny brothers, Peter, Marian or Anton, not to speak in Slovak to a journalist from their native country.

If someone had dared to do it? Wow, that wouldn’t have been pretty.

The Rangers, and their GM Chris Drury, have shown dishonesty in this file. They took advantage of the vulnerability of a young player who has just arrived to impose a rule as absurd as it is insulting.

And it falls that he is a French-speaking Quebecer.


Besides, I wonder what Gerard Gallant thinks about it. After all, the head coach of the Rangers worked for several years in the QMJHL, then in Montreal with the Canadiens and Michel Therrien.

I’m pretty sure he’s not very happy with this directive from his boss. Of course, he will never say so publicly.

Meanwhile, the NHL is going to do what it always does: it’s going to assure everyone that it’s taking the file seriously, it’s going to let the storm pass and we’ll never hear from it again.

The more it changes, the more it is the same.

Interview by Kevin Dubé


A complex file

The case of the Ottawa Senators in Quebec has caused a lot of talk this week. All the stakeholders have gone out of their way in the media over the past few days and we understand that this is a very complex file.

One thing is certain, however: this would be excellent news for the Old Capital. On the other hand, I hope that we will not take our hockey fans for idiots. If we actually play five NHL games next season, the Senators’ opponents will have to be worthy of the name.

The people of Quebec have already endured the soporific pre-season games between two teams featuring teams from the American Hockey League enough that they deserve a real show. No Columbus or Winnipeg, we want Montreal, Boston, Toronto or New York. If we respect the people of Quebec, I have no doubt that we will fill the Videotron Center to its maximum capacity, including the corporate boxes, for these five games.

The Nordics in the air?

Obviously, we couldn’t help but wonder, on Wednesday, if this openness of the NHL to present games in Quebec had anything with a potential return of the Nordiques.

One thing is clear, and that is that Minister Eric Girard’s presentation to Gary Bettman paid off. Of course, there are the Senators who find themselves in times of uncertainty with the death of Eugene Melnyk, but also, the Arizona Coyotes who will play in a 5,000-seat amphitheater starting next season.

It’s insulting to Quebec, which has a multifunctional and modern amphitheater.

McDavid at the top

Don’t tell me about Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews or Sidney Crosby: the best player in the NHL, by far, is called Connor McDavid. What he can accomplish on the ice is unmatched anywhere in the league.

Watching him play reminds me of when Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux ruled their sport. McDavid has that same kind of impact.

Unfortunately, his detractors like to belittle him by recalling that he never won the Stanley Cup. Clearly, they don’t watch Oilers games. McDavid is in a class apart and it’s not his fault his organization has multiplied bad decisions for 10 years.

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