When you think about Montreal Sports media,the last thing that would come to mind is "The Enquirer", "Star" or even "Perez Hilton", but really, how far are they from being exactly that, a tabloid. I have come to realize recently, just how much power Montreal media has over the fan base and possibly the Habs organization itself.
We all know that the most important criteria when hiring a coach is hiring a winner. Wrong. In Montreal, the major concern is hiring a coach that speaks French, in order to communicate with the "fans", so says the French media. I heard Francois Gagnon, Norman Flynn, Benoit Brunet and many others say that. I ask you this, when does a coach talk to the fans? I do know coaches talk to their players (the most important), assistants, other members of the organization and the media. But fans? Personally, I don't care if the coach speaks Aramaic, as long as he can communicate with his players, and get the best out of every single one of them and I'm sure you all agree. Some might argue that the coach speaks to the fans through the media. Oh, I see, I'm sure the coach wanted the media to forward the following message to the fans in Montreal.
The more I think of the events surrounding the Habs over the past few years, the more things are getting clearer and it's making me queasy. First thing that comes to mind is the whole "Saku Koivu has been in Montreal for 13 years and he doesn't speak French" debacle. Saku Koivu was constantly being attacked by the French media because he refused to speak French. It was always a huge issue for them and they constantly criticized him for that "fault". With Koivu returning to Montreal today after being let go by the Habs, RDS was first occupied with the return of Maxime Lapierre, then concentrated on a possible return of Alex Kovalev as a Hab and then it was about Koivu. We see their priorities. Last I checked, Alex Kovalev doesn't speak french either, never did, but they loved him. He was never attacked my the french media, hell, they gave him nicknames like "l'artiste, and le magicien". Why was there such a difference in the respect they showed Koivu and that which they gave to Kovalev? Was it because they wanted Koivu out of Montreal before he broke Jean Beliveau's record as the longest serving captain of the Montreal Canadiens? Was it because Kovalev was charismatic and comedic and made the media laugh and feel more comfortable? I don't know either. One thing I do know is that Kovalev was offered a contract extension by the Montreal Canadiens organization and Koivu was told "thanks, but no thanks". Could it be that the media liked Kovalev because he was different and didn't give standard answers, hence "a good interview"?
I remember an e-mail exchange I had with someone from Team990 last year. The host was going on and on,on air, about how Koivu was not a good leader and that he was selfish in the locker room. How Koivu only cared if he had points and scored goals. So I e-mailed said host asking: If Koivu was so bad,why was he given a letter in Anaheim and Kovalev doesn't have one in Ottawa? The quick response was: talk to me in a year from now,you'll see. Well a year and a half has passed, Koivu still has his letter and a new contract, while Ottawa can't wait for Kovalev to leave...and he never wore a letter. Could it be that Montreal media bases their opinion of a player on his "interview" qualities? If he makes you laugh he's a good interview, therefore you like him and praise him, hence the Canadiens organization should keep him? Is that what it's all about?
I have come to realize that the media in Montreal, namely the french media,will support a Habs player if he smiles, meets with them, irregardless of whether he is a good player or not. If he talks to them, he's a keeper. If he gives standard answers,has trouble with the language (hence NOT a good interview) and isn't pretty on camera, they will do their damnedest to make the fans hate them, poke fun at them and eventually make the Canadiens organization trade them or just let them go for nothing.
I for one have a serious problem with this. Does the Habs organization follow the footprints of the biased media when deciding who to keep or trade in Montreal?
Thanks. Please leave a comment on your thoughts.