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Cunneyworth pledges to learn French to keep Habs job

Randy Cunneyworth;

FILE - In this Dec. 17, 2011, file photo, Montreal Canadiens interim coach Randy Cunneyworth talks with players during an NHL hockey game in Montreal. The last-place Canadiens apologized to those fans upset with the team for not hiring a coach who speaks French. The apology by general manager Pierre Gauthier on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012, comes two weeks after the appointment of Cunneyworth touched off a language flap. The Canadiens market themselves as French Canada’s team, and it’s been 40 years since the team last hired a coach who couldn’t speak French. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)


At this point, you are probably aware that Montreal was in an uproar when the Canadiens transitioned to Randy Cunneyworth, who cannot speak French. (Their GM Pierre Gauthier even apologized about it.)

It’s been one of the more cringe-worthy stories of the season, but Cunneyworth isn’t turning a blind eye to the issue. The embattled coach told The Canadian Press that he’ll do his best to learn the language by the time Gauthier is preparing to make a coaching decision for next season.

”Hopefully that will be the case by the time some of the decisions are made,” Cunneyworth said. “A lot will depend on how successful this team is and that’s really my priority right now. The language is secondary, but very important as well for me because I think it’s an important marketplace where I’d love to be able to address everybody in both languages and talk to everybody concerning hockey.”

That’s the dark comedy of this situation; amid all the hand-wringing regarding language, the Habs have circled the drain. They’re an ugly 1-6-0 during Randy Cunneyworth’s time as interim head coach, so learning to win should absolutely be Priority No. 1 instead of learning French.