Koivu speaks French in pre-recorded message to Canadiens fans

MONTREAL – A day after taking heat for not speaking French, Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu spoke a few words in a pre-recorded feature shown before a game Thursday night at the Bell Centre.

A surprised crowd cheered as Koivu said “ici Saku Koivu, voici mon equipe” (Saku Koivu here, this is my team) before reading out the Canadiens lineup in a mix of English and French on the video scoreboard.

Before each home game, the Canadiens have a player read out the team’s lineup to the fans.

It was a similar message, all in English, shown at the team’s opening game this season that the Finnish Koivu was criticized for by nationalist lawyer Guy Bertrand this week.

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Bertrand said that after 12 years with the Canadiens, he should speak French to show respect for the majority of Quebecers. Parti Quebecois leader Pauline Marois said the team should encourage its players to learn French.

Before a large group of media on Wednesday, Koivu admitted he spoke some French but was shy about using it in public.