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Cunneyworth out as Montreal head coach, back as an assistant…for now

May 2, 2012, 2:58 PM EDT

Randy Cunneyworth; AP

Freshly-minted Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the media today and, in accordance with the organizational mandate of keeping Randy Cunneyworth in limbo, had this to say:

“Randy Cunneyworth will return to the position of assistant coach. The new coach will decide if he will remain there.”

Before writing Cunneyworth’s obituary, we should note there have been instances (rare instances) where a head coach gets knocked down a peg, takes the assistant gig and survives under the new guy.

Back in 2004, the Colorado Avalanche “re-assigned” Tony Granato from head to assistant coach and brought in Joel Quenneville to run the show. Granato didn’t just survive as Quenneville’s assistant — he later re-claimed the head coaching gig when Quenneville left the organization in 2008.

So, Cunneyworth has that going for him.

What he doesn’t have going for him is a vote of confidence from the GM.

You can look at Bergevin’s move in two ways. One, by saying “I’m bringing Randy back as an assistant, but our head coach might go another direction,” he ensures bloodless hands if/when Cunneyworth get axed.

That’s the cynical way of looking at it.

The second (and more optimistic) way of looking at it is Bergevin’s merely giving the future head coach autonomy over his staff. The new coach can either hire his own assistant, or keep the old one.

But however you look at it, one fact remains: Cunneyworth still has no idea if he’ll be behind the Canadiens’ bench next season.

  1. govtminion - May 2, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    *whew* You know, I was wondering if hiring a great choice like Bergevin (and he is) would bring some stability to the train wreck that has been Montreal the past few years… and yet one of his first moves is to demote this guy? It’s still early, but at least day 1 of Bergevin being in charge looks like the same ol’ Canadiens… baffling.

    • bloggersarenotjournalists - May 2, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      Why was Bergevin a great choice, what has he ever done?
      Spent a short time as director of scouting that led to draft busts
      Spent a short time as assistant GM only because someone else was hiring away from the job.

      Seriously, I need to know, what has he ever done to be labelled a “Great choice”?

      • govtminion - May 2, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        As an executive, not much I admit. I always did like him as a player though- if he brings as much effort and character to this as he did playing, he’ll do fine.

      • bloggersarenotjournalists - May 2, 2012 at 3:20 PM

        I hope so, the Habs are an elite franchise and this decade long embarrassment of wheeling spinning and indecision is just sad.

    • ribs108 - May 3, 2012 at 12:33 PM

      Darn right! It seems that the “new” regime is operating the same as the old. Taking an employee who was already thrown under the bus by the former GM AND the owner and saying “we really want you to stay, but…” is, at least, very mean. I hope Cunneyworth’s phone rings with offers so he can be done with the abuse. The franchise will continue to flounder as I’ve heard that a main priority will be to beef up their scouting presence in the QMJHL and throughout the province. Hopefully there will be a long future of “losing with their own”. That’ll appease the media and about 10% of their fans. Go for it Geoff!!

  2. barkar942 - May 2, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    He speaks French. Isn’t that enough to make him a great choice?

    • habsman - May 2, 2012 at 7:17 PM


  3. billsin20xx - May 2, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    It’s too bad we can’t get Pegula to backtrack and get rid of Ruff, the Sabre’s organization could use him back here coaching.

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