Randy Cunneyworth

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Randy Cunneyworth
Born (1961-05-10) May 10, 1961 (age 53)
Etobicoke, ON, CAN
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Buffalo Sabres
Pittsburgh Penguins
Winnipeg Jets
Hartford Whalers
Chicago Blackhawks
Ottawa Senators
NHL Draft 167th overall, 1980
Buffalo Sabres
Playing career 1981–2000

Randolph William Cunneyworth (born May 10, 1961) is a former professional ice hockey player and coach. He played professionally in the National Hockey League (NHL) and American Hockey League (AHL) in a twenty-year career; his coaching résumé includes a brief stint as head coach of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens. He had long stints as both a player and coach of the AHL's Rochester Americans. Cunneyworth was born in Etobicoke, Ontario, but grew up in Mississauga, Ontario.

Playing career[edit]

Ottawa 67's (1979–1981)[edit]

Cunneyworth began his junior hockey career with the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League in the 1979–80 season, where in 63 games, he scored 16 goals and 41 points, helping the club into the playoffs. In 11 playoff games, Cunneyworth recorded an assist. After the season, Cunneyworth was chosen in the eighth round, 167th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft.

He returned to the 67's for the 1980–81 season, as Cunneyworth led the team in scoring with 54 goals and 128 points in 67 games. He also led the team with 240 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, Cunneyworth appeared in 15 games, scoring five goals and 13 points.

Buffalo Sabres (1980–1985)[edit]

Cunneyworth appeared in one game with the AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans in the 1980–81 season, where he earned an assist. He also was called up to the Sabres from Ottawa on 3-1-81 and played in his first NHL game vs the Boston Bruins in Boston 1980–81, where he was held off the scoresheet. Re-joined the Sabres for the post-season along with other prospects folllowing the end of the OHA playoffs, but did not play in any games.

He spent most of the 1981–82 season with the Rochester Americans, playing in 57 games, scoring 12 goals and 27 points. Due to rash of early season injuries, Cunneyworth saw some action with the Sabres during the 1981–82 season, appearing in 20 games, scoring two goals and six points. Played primarily on the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railroad) line with young teammates Steve Patrick and Lindy Ruff. This nickname was given to the trio by then Sabres Assistant Coach Nick Polano. Earned his first NHL assist 10-7-81 against the Washington Capitals. Scored his first NHL goal against the New York Rangers on 11-11-81 in New York against goalie Steve Weeks. Spent the playoffs with Rochester, scoring four goals in nine games, as the Americans lost to the Binghamton Whalers in the South Division finals.

Cunneyworth spent the entire 1982–83 season with Rochester, playing in 78 games, scoring 23 goals and 56 points, helping the team qualify for the playoffs. In 16 playoff games, Cunneyworth had four goals and eight points, helping the Americans win the 1983 Calder Cup over the Maine Mariners.

Cunneyworth spent another full season in the American Hockey League in the 1983–84 season with Rochester, as he scored 18 goals and 35 points in 65 games, once again helping the Americans reach the playoffs. In 17 post-season games, Cunneyworth scored five goals and 10 points, as Rochester lost to the Maine Mariners in the 1984 Calder Cup finals.

During the 1984-85 pre-season with the Sabres, Cunneyworth scored 3 goals and had an assist in 4 exhibition games. He was also among the leading scorers in inter-squad scrimmages but failed to secure a roster spot. The 1984–85 season would be Cunneyworth's third full season with the Americans, as he played in 72 games for Rochester, scoring 30 goals and 68 points to finish third in team scoring. In five playoff games, Cunneyworth had two goals and three points, as the Americans fell to the Baltimore Skipjacks in the first round of the playoffs.

Cunneywoth and teammate Ted Nolan hired Steve Bartlett as their representative/agent.

On October 4, 1985, following a pre-season tryout with the Penguins, Sabres GM Scotty Bowman traded Cunneyworth and Mike Moller to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Pat Hughes.

Pittsburgh Penguins (1985–1989)[edit]

After a three-year hiatus, Cunneyworth returned to the NHL for the 1985–86 season, as he spent the entire season with the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 75 games as an NHL regular, Cunneyworth had 15 goals and 45 points to finish sixth in team scoring, as Pittsburgh missed the playoffs by two points, finishing in fifth place in the Patrick Division.

In 1986–87, Cunneyworth improved his offensive numbers, scoring 26 goals and 53 points in 79 games to finish third in team scoring behind Mario Lemieux and Dan Quinn, however, the Penguins failed to qualify for the playoffs again, finishing in fifth place, four points out of the post-season. Cunneyworth scored a hat trick in the season opener October 9 1986 vs Washington, and had a four goal game @ Quebec March 3, 1987. Recorded 11 multiple point games.

The 1987–88 season would be the best offensive season of Cunneyworth's career, as he scored 35 goals and 74 points in 71 games, finishing an impressive third in scoring behind Lemieux and Quinn, however, the Penguins once again failed to qualify for the playoffs, finishing in last place in the Patrick Division despite a 36–35–9 record. Cunneyworth was not selected by Wales Conference Coach Mike Keenan for the NHL All-Star Game although his point totals ranked among the league leaders for his position at mid-season. Cunneyworth missed 8 regular season games from Jan 16-30 due to an NHL suspension (5 games for a stick incident vs Boston on Dec 29, and 3 games for a match penalty vs the NY Islanders on Jan 12.) Recorded 20 multiple point games. Scored 14 power-play goals

In 1988, Cunneyworth was named one of the team's Assistant Captains. Cunneyworth's offensive numbers went down in the 1988–89 season, as he scored 25 goals and 44 points in 70 games, however, the Penguins finished in second place in the Patrick Division, and qualified for the post-season. In 11 games, Cunneyworth scored three goals and eight points, as Pittsburgh lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in seven games in the Patrick Division final. Recorded a career game high 27 minutes in penalties in a game played February 11, 1989 @ Quebec where Cunneyworth was involved in two on ice fights (vs Marc Fortier and Darrin Kimble) during a line brawl. Cunneyworth also left the penalty box during the altercation to aid teammate John Cullen. After throwing a punch Joe Sakic, Cunneyworth engaged Kimble in a fight and was head-butted by Kimble.

On June 17, 1989, the Penguins traded Cunneyworth, Rick Tabaracci and Dave McLlwain to the Winnipeg Jets for Jim Kyte, Andrew McBain and Randy Gilhen.

Winnipeg Jets (1989)[edit]

Cunneyworth began the 1989–90 season with the Winnipeg Jets, where he played in 28 games for the Jets, scoring five goals and 11 points. Cunneyworth's name appeared on the NHL All-Star ballot for Left Wingers. Played primarily on a line with Dale Hawerchuk and Greg Paslawski.

On December 13, 1989, Winnipeg traded Cunneyworth to the Hartford Whalers for Paul MacDermid.

Hartford Whalers (1989–1994)[edit]

Cunneyworth finished the 1989–90 with the Hartford Whalers, where in 43 games, he scored nine goals and 18 points, helping the Whalers qualify for the playoffs. In four playoff games, Cunneyworth was held pointless, as the Whalers lost to the Boston Bruins in the Adams Division semi-finals.

He suffered through an injury plagued 1990–91 season (broken leg), appearing in only 32 games for the Whalers, scoring nine goals and 14 points, as the team reached the playoffs once again. Cunneyworth played in only one playoff game, getting no points, as the Whalers were once again eliminated by the Boston Bruins in the first round.

Injuries continued to take a toll during the 1991–92 season (ankle injury), as Cunneyworth played in 39 games with Hartford, scoring seven goals and 17 points, helping the Whalers reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season. In seven playoff games, Cunneyworth had three goals (tied for team lead) as Hartford lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the post-season.

A healthier Cunneyworth playing under coach Paul Holmgren for 1992–93 saw spot duty and was often a healthy scratch. In 39 games with the Whalers, he scored five goals and nine points, as Hartford failed to reach the playoffs. Earned 27 minutes in penalties in a game against Pittsburgh 12-4-93, in which Cunneyworth instigated a line brawl that featured a fight between Cunneyworth and Markus Naslund.

In 1993–94, playing under new coach Pierre Maguire, Cunneyworth appeared in 63 games with Hartford, scoring nine goals and 17 points. On March 11, 1994, with the Whalers well out of the playoff hunt, Whalers GM Paul Holmgren traded Cunneyworth, Gary Suter and the Whalers third round pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft to the Chicago Blackhawks for Frantisek Kucera and Jocelyn Lemieux.

Chicago Blackhawks (1994)[edit]

Cunneyworth finished the 1993–94 season with the Chicago Blackhawks, where in 16 games, he earned four goals and seven points, as the Blackhawks made the playoffs as the sixth seed in the Western Conference. Cunneyworth played in six playoff games with Chicago, getting no points, as the Blackhawks lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the post-season.

After the season, Cunneyworth was granted free agency, and on July 15, 1994, he signed with the Ottawa Senators.

Ottawa Senators (1994–1998)[edit]

Due to the 1994 NHL lockout, the 1994–95 season was shortened to 48 games. Named the Senators team captain prior to the start of the season, Cunneyworth appeared in every game during the season. He scored five goals and ten points. The team finished in last place in the NHL. Was the Senators nominee for the King Clancy Award (Leadership and Dedication to the Game)

Cunneyworth had a very solid 1995-96 NHL season with Ottawa, playing in 81 games, scoring 17 goals and 36 points, his highest totals since the 1988–89 season. The Senators once again failed to reach the playoffs, finishing in last place in the league. Had a four point game 2-26-96 at St. Louis.

Cunneyworth had another very solid season in 1996-97 NHL season|1996–97, as he played in 76 games for the Senators, scoring 12 goals and 36 points, as he helped the club qualify for the playoffs for the first time in team history, as Ottawa finished in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. In the post-season, Cunneyworth had a goal and two points in seven games, as the Senators lost to the Buffalo Sabres in the first round.

Cunneyworth saw his offensive numbers drop in the 1997–98 season, as he scored two goals and 13 points in 71 games, as Ottawa once again reached the playoffs. In the post-season, Cunneyworth had an assist in six games, as the Senators lost to the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

After four seasons with the Senators, Cunneyworth was given his release by newly hired GM Rick Dudley and became a free agent, and on August 27, 1998, he signed with the Buffalo Sabres.

Buffalo Sabres (1998–2000)[edit]

On August 27, 1998, Cunneyworth returned to his first NHL team, the Buffalo Sabres for the 1998–99 season signing as a free agent. He appeared in 14 games with the Sabres, scoring two goals and four points including the GWG at Vancouver February 28, 1999. Cunneyworth played in three playoff games for the Sabres, all in the 1999 Stanley Cup Finals, as Buffalo lost to the Dallas Stars. He spent a majority of the season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, as Cunneyworth suited up for 52 games with the Americans, scoring 10 goals and 28 points while serving as a Player/Assistant Coach.. In 20 playoff games, Cunneyworth had three goals and 17 points, as Rochester lost to the Providence Bruins in the 1999 Calder Cup Finals.

He returned to the Americans for the 1999–2000 season once again as a Player/Assistant Coach, as Cunneyworth played in 52 games with Rochester, scoring eight goals and 24 points. Cunneyworth was named Captain of Team Canada for the 2000 Kodak AHL All-Star Classic.

On February 18, 2000, Cunneyworth suffered a season ending knee injury in a game against the Quebec Citadelles. He missed the rest of the season and playoffs, where the Americans lost to the Hartford Wolf Pack in the 2000 Calder Cup Finals.

Cunneyworth was the recipient of the AHL's Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award. This award honors the player that best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination, and dedication to hockey.

On September 8, 2000, Cunneyworth officially announced his retirement from playing hockey and was named the new head coach of the Rochester Americans by Sabres GM Darcy Regier.

Coaching career[edit]

Rochester Americans (1999–2008)[edit]

During both years as a player, Cunneyworth acted as a player-assistant coach with the Rochester Americans, the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate during the 1999-2000 AHL season under head coach Brian McCutcheon. After the season, Cunneyworth was named the head coach of the club.

In his first season as head coach with the team in 2000–01, Cunneyworth led the club to a 46–22–9–3 record, getting 104 points, and first place in the Mid-Atlantic Division. In the playoffs, the Americans were upset by the Philadelphia Phantoms in four games in the first round.

In the 2001–02, the Americans slumped to a 32–30–15–3 record, earning 82 points and ninth in the Western Conference. Cunneyworth was fined by the league for throwing a water bottle at referee Chris Rooney due to a disputed goal call vs Syracuse. The Americans qualified for a best-of-three qualifying series with the eighth seeded Philadelphia Phantoms. The Americans were then swept in two games, missing the post-season.

The Americans had another mediocre season in 2002–03, as the team finished the season with a 31–30–14–5 record, getting 81 points, and tenth place in the Western Conference. The Americans faced the seventh place Milwaukee Admirals for a best-of-three qualifying series, and Milwaukee won the series two games to one to eliminate the Americans from post-season play.

Rochester improved during the 2003–04 season, earning a record of 37–28–10–5, recording 89 points and third place in the North Division. In the playoffs, the Americans defeated the Syracuse Crunch and Hamilton Bulldogs before losing to the Milwaukee Admirals in the Western Conference finals.

In 2004–05, Rochester won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy, as the Americans had the best record in the AHL with a 51–19–6–4 record, earning 112 points. The Americans swept the Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round of the playoffs, however, Rochester was upset by the Manitoba Moose in the second round to end their season. Cunneyworth was awarded with the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL's Coach of the Year.

In the 2005–06, the Americans became the AHL affiliate of both the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. The team struggled, finishing under .500 for the first time since Cunneyworth became the head coach, as Rochester went 37–39–2–2 for 78 points, fifth in the North Division, missing the playoffs.

The Americans rebounded in the 2006–07 season, earning a record of 48–30–1–1, registering 98 points, and second place in the North Division. In the playoffs, Rochester lost to the Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round.

In 2007–08, the Americans struggled, going only 24–46–6–4, earning 58 points, which was the worst record in the league. On July 24, 2008, Cunneyworth left his position of head coach of the Americans to take an assistant coaching job with the Atlanta Thrashers.

Atlanta Thrashers (2008–2010)[edit]

Cunneyworth joined new Atlanta Thrashers head coach John Anderson as an assistant coach for the 2008–09 season. In his first season with the Thrashers, the team finished with a 35–41–6 record, getting 76 points, well out of a playoff position.

In 2009–10, the Thrashers improved to a 35–34–13 record, earning 83 points, however, the club finished out of the playoffs once again. On April 14, 2010, Atlanta's newly hired General Manager Rick Dudley fired Anderson and all of his assistant coaches, including Randy Cunneyworth.

In 2010, Randy Cunneyworth was inducted into the Rochester Americans Hall of Fame. Cunneyworth received his plaque and was inducted by Amerks Owner and CEO Curt Styres, VP of Hockey Operations Ted Nolan, and Amerks Hall of Famer and Director of Hockey Operations Jody Gage.

Hamilton Bulldogs (2010–2011)[edit]

On July 20, 2010, Pierre Gauthier, the GM of the Montreal Canadiens hired Cunneyworth to be the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. In his first season with the club in 2010–11, Cunneyworth led the Bulldogs to an impressive 44–27–2–7 record, getting 97 points and first place in the North Division. In the post-season, he led the club to series victories over the Oklahoma City Barons and Manitoba Moose before losing to the Houston Aeros in the Western Conference finals.

On July 22, 2011, the Canadiens added Cunneyworth to their NHL assistant coaching staff.

Montreal Canadiens (2011-2012)[edit]

Cunneyworth began the 2011–12 season as an assistant coach to head coach Jacques Martin on the Montreal Canadiens.

On December 17, 2011, the Canadiens fired Martin and named Cunneyworth the interim head coach. Cunneyworth's promotion caused some controversy because, at the time, he didn't speak French. The last full-time Canadiens coach who didn't speak French at all was Al MacNeil in 1971. For instance, Quebec Culture Minister Christine St-Pierre said she expected the Canadiens to rectify the situation as soon as possible, and several nationalist groups have called for a boycott of Molson products. In response, Canadiens owner Geoff Molson promised that Cunneyworth's permanent replacement would be bilingual. Cunneyworth himself had promised to learn the language during the season.[1][2]

Cunneyworth's final game of the 2011–12 season rewarded his efforts with a 4 – 1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.[3] That game saw forward Tomas Plekanec score a rare 3-on-5 shorthanded goal; a feat which had not been accomplished in 25 years by a fellow Hab.

On May 2, 2012, Cunneyworth was returned to his former position as assistant coach by new Canadiens General Manager and former Cunneyworth teammate Marc Bergevin. However, only a month later, on June 6, Cunneyworth was fired by new coach Michel Therrien.

Buffalo Sabres Post-coaching - Front Office (2013-15)[edit]

On November 2, 2013, Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier hired Cunneyworth as professional scout for the Buffalo Sabres. His position would also include special assignments as prescribed by the Sabres front office. It was heavily rumored to be possible replacement for then struggling Sabres Head Coach Ron Rolston.

On January 8, 2014, Randy Cunneyworth was promoted to Special Assistant and Player Development Coach/Administrator of the AHL's Rochester Americans by the newly hired Sabres President of Hockey Operations Pat Lafontaine. Cunneyworth would also work directly with Sabres interim Head Coach Ted Nolan in ensure continuity between the Sabres and their AHL affiliate in Rochester. This would include coaching systems and strategies. According to Pat Lafontaine, “This is an exciting opportunity to fully utilize all of Randy’s expertise as a hockey coach and mentor, Randy will work to ensure that the link between the Sabres and Amerks grows even stronger.

Summer 2014, Cunneyworth was a candidate for the position of Head Coach with the Ottawa 67's.

On August 21 2014, Cunneyworth was promoted to the position of Buffalo Sabres Player Development Coach by General Manager Tim Murray. This is an organizational position. Cunneyworth is to oversee player development in Buffalo, with the AHL Rochester Americans, as well as other Sabres prospects.

Misc.[edit]

Randy Cunneyworth has spent 17 out of his 34 years in professional hockey with the Buffalo Sabres organization.

Cunneyworth wore the following uniform numbers in preseason and/or in regular season games: Ottawa 67's (19) Buffalo Sabres (7,15,17,19,23,29), Rochester Americans (11,15,28), Pittsburgh Penguins (15,19), Winnipeg Jets (18), Hartford Whalers (7), Springfield Indians (unknown), Chicago Blackhawks (19), Ottawa Senators (7).

Nicknames include "Cunney" and "Rock"

In a 16 year NHL career, Cunneyworth had played for 15 different Head Coaches.

Career playing statistics[edit]

    Regular Season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1979–80 Ottawa 67's OMJHL 63 16 25 41 145
1980–81 Ottawa 67's OHL 67 54 74 128 240
1980–81 Rochester Americans AHL 1 0 1 1 2
1980–81 Buffalo Sabres NHL 1 0 0 0 2
1981–82 Rochester Americans AHL 57 12 15 27 86 9 4 0 4 30
1981–82 Buffalo Sabres NHL 20 2 4 6 47
1982–83 Rochester Americans AHL 78 23 33 56 111 16 4 4 8 35
1983–84 Rochester Americans AHL 65 18 17 35 85 17 5 5 10 55
1984–85 Rochester Americans AHL 72 30 38 68 148 5 2 1 3 16
1985–86 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 75 15 30 45 74
1986–87 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 79 26 27 53 142
1987–88 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 71 35 39 74 141
1988–89 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 70 25 19 44 156 11 3 5 8 26
1989–90 Winnipeg Jets NHL 28 5 6 11 34
1989–90 Hartford Whalers NHL 43 9 9 18 41 4 0 0 0 2
1990–91 Springfield Indians AHL 2 0 0 0 5
1990–91 Hartford Whalers NHL 32 9 5 14 49 1 0 0 0 0
1991–92 Hartford Whalers NHL 39 7 10 17 71 7 3 0 3 9
1992–93 Hartford Whalers NHL 39 5 4 9 63
1993–94 Hartford Whalers NHL 63 9 8 17 87
1993–94 Chicago Blackhwaks NHL 16 4 3 7 13 6 0 0 0 8
1994–95 Ottawa Senators NHL 48 5 5 10 68
1995–96 Ottawa Senators NHL 81 17 19 36 130
1996–97 Ottawa Senators NHL 76 12 24 36 99 7 1 1 2 10
1997–98 Ottawa Senators NHL 71 2 11 13 63 6 0 1 1 6
1998–99 Rochester Americans AHL 52 10 18 28 55 20 3 14 17 58
1998–99 Buffalo Sabres NHL 14 2 2 4 0 3 0 0 0 0
1999–00 Rochester Americans AHL 52 8 16 24 81
NHL totals 866 189 225 414 1280 45 7 7 14 61
OHA totals 130 70 99 169 385
AHL totals 273 166 104 270 432 47 15 10 25 136

NHL coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L OTL Pts Finish Result
MTL 2011–12 50 18 23 9 (78) 5th in Northeast Missed Playoffs

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Gord Dineen
Ottawa Senators captain
199598
Succeeded by
Alexei Yashin
Preceded by
Jacques Martin
Interim Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens
2011–12
Succeeded by
Michel Therrien