NHL notes: Cunneyworth's language is hockey

Montreal Canadiens head coach, Randy Cunneyworth. (CHANTAL POIRIER/QMI Agency)

Montreal Canadiens head coach, Randy Cunneyworth. (CHANTAL POIRIER/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:18 PM ET

Randy Cunneyworth does not believe he is in a hopeless situation as coach of the Montreal Canadiens.

Responding to general manager Pierre Gauthier's statement Monday that the Canadiens would have a bilingual coach next season, Cunneyworth -- the unilingual interim coach -- said he was working on learning French but that his focus was on winning games.

"The issue of language is secondary right now but still very important," Cunneyworth said Tuesday, adding that he would like to be able address the Montreal market in both official languages.

"I'm working hard to pick up the language as much as I can and as quickly as I can. But my main concern revolves around hockey. On any team, if you do not win your job is in danger. That's why I focus on hockey."

Cunneyworth, who took over as coach Dec. 15 after Jacques Martin was fired, hopes he can get the 13th-place Habs turned around in conjunction with his French language skills.

CLASSIC RATINGS SLIP

NBC drew a 2.4 overnight rating for the outdoor Winter Classic -- a drop of about 15% from the game Jan. 1, 2011, according to Sports Business Daily.

In fact, the game Monday between the New York Rangers and Flyers in Philadelphia drew the lowest overnight rating of any of the five Winter Classics.

The previous four games drew ratings ranging from 2.6 to 2.9.

GROIN PAIN FOR JAGR

Forward Jaromir Jagr will be sidelined from seven to 10 days with a mild left groin strain, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Tuesday.

Jagr was hurt while splitting two New York Rangers defenders late in the first period of Monday's Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.

It was initially reported that Jagr aggravated a calf strain suffered Dec. 29.

Jagr has 12 goals and 19 assists this season.

PITKANEN'S WOES GROW

Carolina Hurricanes defenceman Joni Pitkanen, already sidelined by a concussion, underwent surgery on his left knee Tuesday and is expected to miss about four weeks.

The 28-year-old Pitkanen has three goals and nine assists in 21 games and leads all Carolina players in average ice time.

The absence of the Finn, who was the team's top-scoring defenceman when he was sidelined by the concussion in December, is a blow for a team that is in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Pitkanen, who was taken fourth overall in the 2002 draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, has 268 points in 504 career games with Carolina, Edmonton and Philadelphia.

BRIEFLY

Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta rejoined his teammates at practice Tuesday but wasn't expected to be ready to play Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets. Gionta hasn't played since Dec. 8 because of a groin injury ... Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber, wearing a yellow no-contact jersey, practised Tuesday for the first time since suffering a concussion Dec. 23. There is no timetable for his return to the lineup ... In the seventh move Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has made since 2009 with his old Anaheim Ducks team, minor-league forward Luca Caputi was traded Tuesday for centre Nicolas Deschamps. The latter will report directly to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL. Caputi, acquired from Pittsburgh for Alexei Ponikarovsky in 2010, had off-season surgery for a sports hernia and a shoulder injury ... The Columbus Blue Jackets put defenceman James Wisniewski on injured reserve because of a broken left ankle. He was injured last Thursday after being hit by a shot ... The Phoenix Coyotes activated goaltender Mike Smith off injured reserve Tuesday and sent goalie Curtis McElhinney back to their minor-league affiliate in Portland, Maine. Smith missed six games after sustaining a lower-body injury Dec. 20.


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