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At the Rink blog

Pittsburgh always feels like home to Cunneyworth

Friday, 01.20.2012 / 2:25 PM

By Alan Robinson - NHL.com Correspondent / At the Rink blog

PITTSBURGH -- No matter how well or poorly his team is playing, Randy Cunneyworth enjoys coming to Pittsburgh.
 
Even if the Penguins' almost-new-home wasn't his home.
 
Cunneyworth, now the Montreal Canadiens' coach, enjoyed the four best offensive seasons of his NHL career while playing with Pittsburgh from 1985-89 -- the period in which the Penguins transformed themselves from the League's worst team into a contender.
 
It wasn't a coincidence that he had point totals of 45, 53, 74 and 44 while playing on a team led by Mario Lemieux, then a rising star in his early 20s. Cunneyworth never had more than 36 points in a season while playing elsewhere.
 
"Just being amongst a great group of guys," Cunneyworth said Friday, referring to his best memory of playing in Pittsburgh. "Mario Lemieux was one of the best players in hockey. It was great to play alongside him. He allowed me to get some pretty good numbers."
 
Cunneyworth, whose team played the Penguins on Friday night, wasn't the only player whose standout seasons came with No. 66 as a teammate.
 
"I always tell the story that when two guys jumped on his back, I always followed him and put in a couple of the rebounds he couldn't score," Cunneyworth said.
 
Of the 189 goals that Cunneyworth scored in an NHL career that stretched from 1981-99, 101 came during those four seasons playing in the Penguins' former home, the Civic Arena.
 
That arena, which sits across the street from Consol Energy Center, is currently being demolished to make way for an urban redevelopment project.
 
"That silver building across the street, there's a lot of fond memories there," Cunneyworth said.

I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round