National Hockey League Goes French

Maurice “Rocket” Richard can rest in peace! The National Hockey League (NHL) has finally as some would say, launched its NHL.com website in French (LNH.com).

When I heard the news, I said to myself: “Finally the NHL has realized the importance in offering French-Canadian fans, who number the thousands, a French version of their website.”

But no! It seems that French was not the only language among the league leaders list of priorities and promotional strategies. The NHL introduced the French version of its website along with Czech, Finnish, German, Russian, Slovak and Swedish versions.

Nevertheless, I welcome with open arms the new French website and I must say that the end result is quite impressive.

French in the Spotlight

It’s a common fact among hockey fans that the number of French NHL players is diminishing. However, those who do play really stand out. The new website features French Canadian players such as Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis, born in Laval Québec, and Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, born in Hearst Ontario, who are burning up the ice across Canada and the United States.

In addition, it is now possible through the presence of French video content to listen to players and coaches speak in their first language.

The new website’s  content will be produced by a team of French-Canadian journalists that includes François Lemenu, Martin Leclerc and Richard Milo.

Times Change…

The French-Canadian NHL Web site comes 56 years after the Montreal Forum’s legendary riot. At the time, fans had rioted in protest of NHL president, Clarence Campbell’s decision to suspended Montreal Canadian idol Maurice Richard. According to many television and journalistic reports the riot which was initially sports related quickly became a linguistic conflict between French and English.

This TV report produced by Radio-Canada depicts the infamous 1955 riot.

Is our passion for hockey stronger than our cultural dualities? I wonder what Maurice Richard would think about all of this today…

Philippe Daoust