Multicultural Golden Knights feature strong French influence

Take a hard left turn after entering the Golden Knights locker room at City National Arena and walk to the last stall along the wall. Then, look at the name plates. 

From right to left: William Carrier, (Tomas Nosek), Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Jonathan Marchessault and David Perron.

“It’s not so often you have so many Francophone together,” Bellemare said, using a term for a person who speaks French. “Usually they try to make it so they don’t have them all together.”

In many ways, the Knights mirror the modern, multicultural NHL, with seven countries represented on their roster.

But upon deeper examination, the Knights feature one of the largest contingents of French-speaking players in the league.

And while the players said it was a coincidence they ended up near one another in the locker room — stalls were assigned based on when the players arrived in the summer — the arrangement turned out to be an integral part of the expansion team bonding so quickly.

“I think all we’re seeing from that side of the room is guys chirping at each other,” said Carrier, who was born in LaSalle, Quebec. “It does help. I think what does bring everyone together is just working on the ice. Everyone’s working hard, that’s a big thing.”

The Francophone players said they have a self-imposed, English-only rule in the locker room so as not to exclude any teammates from a conversation.

Perron, who hails from Sherbrooke, Quebec, and Carrier each said they were taught English during high school. Marchessault, a native of Cap-Rouge, Quebec, said he learned English as a child from his mother.

“My mom is English, and all her side of the family is English,” Marchessault said. “Actually, my first language was English, and after, I kind of lost it living in Quebec City. It came back when I started being able to work in the United States.”

The Knights roster includes French-Canadian goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury (Sorel, Quebec) and Maxime Lagace (Saint-Augustin, Quebec), though their lockers are located on an opposite wall.

Bellemare, who plays on the International Line with Carrier and the Czech Republic’s Nosek, was born in Le Blanc-Mesnil, France.

Knights coach Gerard Gallant does not speak French despite his surname, but played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from 1980 to 1983.

He also coached in the league from 2009 to 2013 with the Saint John Sea Dogs and noticed that the language barrier no longer exists for many French-Canadian players.

Quebec Major Junior commissioner Gilles Courteau told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation this summer that the league will continue to emphasize English communication between coach and players.

“When I was 17, 18 years old … it definitely was a tough adjustment for me going there,” Gallant said. “The NHL guys now, there’s so many teams in Canada that are English-speaking in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. There’s a Maritime division that’s all English, so a lot of those players that are playing there, they learn the language very early.

“Guys like (Florida’s Jonathan) Huberdeau and those guys, when they joined the NHL, they spoke English almost perfectly. So, it’s not as big of a difference as it used to be back in my era when guys were coming.”

Strong Quebec influence

While Quebec is famous for producing some of hockey’s greatest players, the decrease of Quebecois players in the NHL over the past two decades has been well documented.

Fleury (2003) is the last Quebec-born player to go No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft, and of the 14 players from the Quebec Major Junior selected in the 2016 NHL Draft — the lowest total since 2004 — six were born outside of the province.

That makes the Knights’ situation all the more unique.

Including Fleury, who is on the injured-reserve list, the Knights are tied with Colorado for the most Quebec-born players in the league with five. Montreal (four), Florida (three) and Tampa Bay (three) are the only other teams with three or more.

Interestingly, Bellemare also is fluent in Swedish and owns a home there after playing in the country for eight years before coming to the NHL.

That’s allowed him to communicate with the Knights’ Swedish-born players, William Karlsson and Oscar Lindberg, in addition to the native French speakers.

“The language is a big part of right from the start who you’re going to assimilate yourself with, and obviously guys are talking French, so when I came here, it was really easy for me to have something in common right away,” Bellemare said. “And I have the Swedish guys, too, so for me it’s been really, really easy to get into the team just because I could switch languages and talk to the guys.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Knights In Flames After Loss To Calgary
Golden Knights fall to 7-2 to the Calgary Flames. Review-Journal sports writer Adam Hill and columnist Ed Graney go over the Knights loss before heading to Arizona to play against the Coyotes.
Golden Knights Forward Reilly Smith On 7-2 Loss
Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith talks to media about loss to the Calgary Flames.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant On Loss To Calgary
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant talks to the media after their 7-2 loss against Calgary.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Have Stellar Second Period Against Oilers
Golden Knights have stellar second period against the Edmonton Oilers on the road. Review-Journal sports writers Adam Hill and columnist Ed Graney break down the Knights 6-3 win over the Oilers.
Golden Knights Assistant Coach On Win In Edmonton
Golden Knights Defenseman Nate Schmidt On Win Against Oilers
Knights coach welcomes Schmidt back to lineup
Coach Gerard Gallant looks for contributions from Nate Schmidt as the defenseman returns to the Golden Knights lineup to start a road trip at Edmonton.
Nate Schmidt talks about his return after the morning skate
Nate Schmidt, returning to the Golden Knights lineup after serving a 20-game suspension, talks about his return after Sunday's morning skate. (Ed Graney/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Edge Knights Singing The Blues After Loss To St. Louis
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen and Adam Hill go over the Knights loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Golden Knights Gallant on the team's 4-1 loss to the Blues
Vegas Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant discusses the team's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues and says what kind of impact he expects Nate Schmidt to make upon his return.
Coach Gerard Gallant Speaks After Morning Skate
Before playing the St. Louis Blues tonight Gerard Gallant speaks with the media after the Golden Knights morning skate at City National Arena | November 16, 2018.
Coach Gallant Speaks with the Media After Practice
City National Arena | November 15, 2018.
Golden Edge: Fleury Shuts Out Anaheim
Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-0. Marc-Andre Fleury gets his third shutout on the season in his shiny new pads. Adam Hill, Dave Schoen, and Ben Gotz report from T-Mobile Arena.
Gallant on the Golden Knights win over the Ducks
Gerard Gallant discusses how key the home victory over the Anaheim Ducks was for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Knights after their 5-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks
Vegas Golden Knights players talk about the 5-0 win on their home ice over the Anaheim Ducks.
Gerard Gallant On Haula And Stastny Status
Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallants speaks after practice about the status of Erik Haula and Paul Stastny.
Golden Edge: Alex Tuch Interview
Adam Hill and Ben Gotz interview Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch.
Golden Edge Mailbag With Alex Tuch
Golden Knights' Alex Tuch is LIVE in-studio for our VGK Mailbag with reporters Ben Gotz and Adam Hill!
Golden Edge: November 12 Practice
Ben Gotz and David Schoen discuss Nate Schmidt's return to practice, Gallant's absence, and Erik Haula's injury.
Nate Schmidt On Suspension
Golden Knights Defenseman Nate Schmidt talks about his suspension.
Golden Edge: Knights Coming Home After Loss To Boston
Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen goes over the Knights loss to the Boston Bruins.
Golden Edge: Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal
Max Pacioretty makes his return to Montreal, but it is former Golden Knight Tomas Tatar who scores the game winner for the Canadiens defeating the Knights 5-4. David Schoen reports from Montreal.
Golden Edge: Knights Beat Senators On The Road
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Golden Knights win against the Senators.
Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension
Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt discusses his suspension after practice in Ottawa (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gallant on Toronto loss
Gallant on Pacioretty
Gallant on how season has gone
Pacioretty on possible return
Golden Edge: Knights Shutout the Hurricanes
The Golden Knights defeat Carolina 3-0, with Marc-Andre Fleury marking his 50th career shutout. Adam Hill and Ed Graney report from T-Mobile Arena.
Marc-Andre Fleury and William Carrier on the Knights Win Over Carolina
November 3, 2018 at T-Mobile Arena.
Coach Gallant Presser
Gerard Gallant speaks after the Knights defeat Carolina 3-0 at T-Mobile Arena November 3, 2018.
Golden Edge: Knights Feeling Blue After Loss In St. Louis
Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen goes over the Knights 5-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues.
Gallant and Marchessault on Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant and Golden Knights Jonathan Marchessault comment on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron
Coach Gerard Gallant on former Knights player David Perron (Dave Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Marchessault on Perron
Gallant on consistency after a loss to the Nashville Predators
Coach Gerard Gallant says the Golden Knights are playing well in stretches, but consistency has been a problem. (David Schoen/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fleury on commercial
Marc-Andre Fleury talks about a commercial that features him in disguise as Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
VGS themed games from AGS at G2E Global Gaming Expo
A Golden Knights-themed slot machine was on display Tuesday at the G2E Global Gaming Expo as AGS showed two products that came out of a 3-year contract with the Knights. A video roulette game featuring a Knights helmet and an enormous slot machine were on the floor along with Knights cheerleaders, the Drumbots and Chance, the Knights' mascot. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights talk after practice
Marc-Andre Fleury, Max Pacioretty and Cody Eakin in the locker room on Wed. October 3, 2018.
Vegas Golden Knights show support at blood drive
Members of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL team showed up for a community blood drive on the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shooting, Oct. 1, 2018. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like