CUNNEYWORTH RETURNS TO AMERKS AS SPECIAL ASSISTANT AND PLAYER DEVELOPMENT COACHNews | 1/8/2014 6:21:09 PM | ROCHESTER AMERICANS
The Buffalo Sabres today announced that Randy Cunneyworth has been promoted to be a special assistant and player development coach for the Rochester Americans, the team’s American Hockey League affiliate club. In his new role, Cunneyworth will work to develop players in Rochester and serve as a liaison to the Sabres. Cunneyworth re-joined the Sabres/Amerks organization in November as a pro scout.
“This is an exciting opportunity to fully utilize all of Randy’s expertise as a hockey coach and mentor,” said Pat LaFontaine, the Sabres’ president of hockey operations. “Randy will work to ensure that the link between the Sabres and Amerks grows even stronger. Our goal is to make sure that the Amerks continue to thrive in developing and harnessing talent at the AHL level to be a reliable pipeline of NHL-ready players for the Sabres’ roster in the future.”
Before re-joining the organization, Cunneyworth most recently served as interim head coach for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens during the 2011-12 season. After beginning the campaign as an assistant coach, Cunneyworth was named to the position on Dec. 17, 2011 when he took over for Jacques Martin and guided the Canadiens to an 18-23-9 record in 50 games. His tenure in the Montreal organization also featured a one-year stint as head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, the Canadiens’ American Hockey League affiliate, whom he guided to a first-place finish in the AHL’s North Division followed by a trip to the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 postseason.
Prior to his time with the Canadiens organization, Cunneyworth spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Thrashers (2008-09 and 2009-10). Cunneyworth began his coaching career as a player-coach under Rochester Americans head coach Brian McCutcheon during the 1999-2000 AHL season. Upon his retirement as a player, he was hired by the Amerks to serve as head coach the following season and retained that post for eight seasons, where he compiled a 306-273-61 all-time record and remains longest tenured coach in franchise history. His 306 wins are also second-most in team history.
Cunneyworth’s most successful season at the helm of the Amerks came during the 2004-05 campaign, when he guided Rochester to an AHL-best 51-19-6-4 record (112 points) while earning the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year. The season culminated with the Amerks setting several single-season franchise records, including most points (112) and the longest home winning streak that saw Rochester win 17 consecutive games between Dec. 17 and Mar. 4 within the friendly confines of The Blue Cross Arena. Additionally, the 2004-05 Amerks featured an abundance of future NHL talent in the likes of Thomas Vanek, who would soon etch his name in the record books with an explosive 42-goal season, the most of any rookie in team history, while Ryan Miller’s impressive eight shutouts that year still remain the most among all-time Rochester netminders in any given season.
As a player, Cunneyworth had an NHL career that spanned parts of 16 seasons, including three as team captain of the Ottawa Senators. He began his NHL career with the Sabres in 1980-81 after the team selected him in the eighth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft and returned to Buffalo in the 1998-99 season for what would be his final NHL season. In 866 career NHL games with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Hartford and Ottawa, the Etobicoke, Ont., native registered 414 points on 189 goals and 225 assists. Cunneyworth also appeared in 273 AHL games with Rochester and Springfield, amassing 270 points (166+104) and winning the Calder Cup with the Amerks during the 1982-83 season.