Bird's Eye View: Andrei Markov's French
Ted Bird, ctvmontreal.ca
Published Monday, July 19, 2010 6:45PM EDT
The fact that Andrei Markov was asked by a reporter within minutes of being sworn in as a Canadian citizen whether he would now take the time to learn French would be despicable were it not so predictable.
Markov defused the loaded question by saying he probably should learn to speak proper English before he tackles French.
How big does the chip on your shoulder have to be to inject petty politics into a milestone event in someone's life?
How desperate to stir the pot and unskilled in journalism are you when you come out of the gate in that scenario with a loaded question?
Lives in Quebec, works in English
It's like this: Markov pays his taxes in Quebec, but as a National Hockey League player, even in Montreal, he lives and works in overwhelmingly English-speaking circles.
He doesn't need to learn French.
Yes, it would be a nice courtesy to the provincial majority if he could appear on l'Antichambre and exchange bon mots with les boys, but learning a new language is a substantial undertaking, and Markov has more important things to do in-season and better things to do off-season than sit in a classroom conjugating verbs if he doesn't want to, which evidently he doesn't.
Koivu was a bilingual pillar of community
Of course, we've seen this movie before.
Former captain Saku Koivu, who would have been an undisputed pillar of any other community, took no end of media grief in Montreal because he only spoke Finnish and English and didn't take it upon himself to become fluently trilingual.
Alas, 'twas ever thus, and ever will be.
There are long-simmering resentments at play from which even otherwise celebrated hockey heroes are not exempt, and hobnobbing with a scarlet-clad Mountie in front of a Canadian flag after swearing allegiance to the Queen isn't the goodwill gesture to some that it is to others.