The Montreal Canadiens have already hung new captain Nick Suzuki out to dry

- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

Nick Suzuki of the Montreal Canadiens skates with the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of an NHL hockey game on March 31 in Raleigh, NC.Carl B. DeBlacker / The Associated Press

Shortly after the Toronto Maple Leafs won the biggest game in their (now not quite) recent history, Ron McLean of the CBC affixed a microphone to Nikolai Borshevsky’s face.


Borschevski was the overtime winner in the 1993 Game 7 Division semi-final against the Detroit Red Wings. McLean asked him how he felt. After a few beats, it became clear that Borshevsky did not understand what McLean was saying.

McLean tried pantomiming ‘feelings’ (an outstretched hand indicating something bursting from one’s chest).

- Advertisement -

“Ah,” said Borshevsky, although he still had no idea what McLean was about. So he started adding roughly the few words he knew.

“I want to play a lot because there are five games I don’t play. Today is for me to play. That our team wins incredible.”

The only word that Borshevsky uttered with any conviction was the last. Because when you think about it, “incredible” is a great word to learn. Said with just the right amount of enthusiasm, this could be the answer to any question.

What surprised you was the CBC’s clear belief that although this poor thing doesn’t speak the language, Hockey Talk can fix that problem. Just do as usual – ask a trivial question and wait for a nonsensical answer.

Borschevsky came to mind when he saw a special message from his new team captain Nick Suzuki to fans of the Montreal Canadiens this week.

“Bon jur taut lemon, having set in…,” began Suzuki, in what I’m assuming was French. or Portuguese. Or maybe Romanian. It was difficult to tell.

You feel a lot of sympathy here. Like Suzuki, I am a product of Canada’s public school system. Like Suzuki, I took and passed French classes. And, like Suzuki, I speak French like I’m reading the cue card in a hostage video.

So much sympathy But sympathy? Not so much.

I don’t speak good conversational French. I also don’t believe that I am the frontrunner for the only important French hockey team in the world. It takes some bile. Who does this guy think he is? CEO of Air Canada?

Sensing the issue of red-meat for giblet prices, every politician in Quebec made a two-legged jump in it.

“I feel [Suzuki] An excellent choice,” said Coalition Avenir Québec leader François Legault, currently running for re-election as premier. “However, he will have to learn French.”

No ‘must learn’ or ‘it would be great if he tried’ – reminders that, even if they are gentle, no English-speaking Canadian politician would dream of releasing a local athlete. But ‘have to learn.’

This is the instruction of the person in charge. unless they want to be regular friends everyone talks about itCanadians will have to face that direct challenge.

Suzuki told the Montreal Gazette that he was trying. He took online courses this summer, as well as spent all those years teaching.I am, you are, she is, she is , He says he reads better than he speaks (I tell the same lies to myself).

Whatever Suzuki is doing, the results are not yet clear.

Of course, Suzuki doesn’t need to do anything. There are no rules here. Many other athletes in other North American leagues choose not to speak English in front of cameras, or do so through interpreters. Most of them say it right. They just prefer to avoid the media. Who can blame them? We are terrible.

It is also true that everywhere outside of North America, it is a given that pro athletes will learn the basics of the language of whatever country they operate in.

It’s not because the games are different, but because the people are. Canada and the United States are among the few countries on Earth where a linguistic person can be considered well educated.

Nobody wants to look stupid. In most places on the planet, you do this by speaking more than one language. Here, we solve that problem by saying that the rest of the world doesn’t exist until we discover it on vacation.

You get the Suzuki position and you get the Legault key. What you don’t get is taking the Montreal Canadiens here.

Quebecers has acknowledged that not all Canadian players can be French. They may also have admitted that very few of them need it. All Quebecers ask is that the people in charge – the GM, coach and captain – demonstrate an understanding of local customs.

Anyone can be the captain of the hockey team. Other teams give it away for all kinds of random reasons – because someone makes the most money, or sells the most jerseys, or scares everyone else in line. ‘Who should be the captain of Hockey Team X?’ There is no wrong answer.

Why didn’t Canadians pass it on to a French speaker? Or someone who really wants to learn French? Or someone who can at least pronounce French if they have an infinite number of techs in which to get it right?

If Suzuki is that guy, it would have been easy enough to meet a friendly French journalist and do your best. People are forgiving in general, but they are also incredibly forgiving of celebrities who show vulnerability. That’s all that is needed here. No one has come forward yet.

What matters is how Suzuki and Canadiens handle it. Do they pat their back about it? Or are they setting expectations so low that any reform will be new? Handled right, it can still be a great PR stroke.

All Quebec politicians pointed fingers at Suzuki and agreed that they should be given a year or two to negotiate. Like Borshevsky, It Shouldn’t Be So Hard to Figure Out How to Say ‘Catch in the Deep’ in French, This is hockey, not particle physics. Some native English speakers barely speak English, and no one is bothering them. They string the same six sentences together in a different order night after night.

I guess it comes down to aspiration. Do you want to play hockey, make a bunch of money and go home? Then do whatever you want.

Or do you really want to be a part of something that is bigger than what you have to do for a living? Do you want to feel connected to a foreign place, not just now, but forever? Then ditch the online courses and get a tutor.


- Advertisement -

Recent Articles

Related Stories