Saturday, 17 December 2011

Randy Cunneyworth "The Capital Killer" named Habs Head Coach

Jacques Martin has been fired by the Montreal Canadiens.

This morning, there must be a chorus of anger around the city of Montreal as many fans loved the coach and his "entertaining style" of play. The Coach was known for often offering up excellent quips in post game scrums, never repeating the same quotes twice. He always made excellent decisions that were never criticized. All the veterans were playing well, the young players were developing, the team was winning. No wait, those are qualities of a coach who keeps his job.

June 1, 2009 Jacques Martin - then the General Manager of the Florida Panthers was hired to become the Coach of the Montreal Canadiens. In slightly more than 2 seasons led the Canadiens to 96-75-25 (.554 winning %). Under Martin, the Canadiens made the playoffs twice - getting to the Eastern Conference finals in 2010 and taking the eventual Stanley Cup champions to a game 7 overtime in 2011. So, where did it all go wrong?

A little over two weeks ago, I wrote an article titled "Troubling Sings" after a miserable performance in Anaheim. The Canadiens came back and looked good in San Jose the next day, in my opinion saving their coach his job. They also looked terrible in Philadelphia and worse at home against Columbus. Three terrible performances in a short time span.

There have been very questionable decisions this season. Erik Cole - a prized free agent acquisition -  was playing 8 minutes a game to start the season including no minutes on the power play. Fourth Line fringe NHLer Mathieu Darche was instead seeing the PP ice time.When Coach Martin was asked about it in a post-game media scrum by TSN 990's Jessica Rusnak, his response was that if one did their "research" they would see that Erik Cole had scored only 3 power play goals last season and that Mathieu Darche was doing a good job in front of the net. In the few weeks since, Perry Pearn (the Assistant Coach who ran the power play) was fired, Erik Cole was given Power Play time, and now leads the team in PP goals scored.

Louie Leblanc scored his first NHl goal the other night, the crowd exploded, and Louie was rewarded with 1 more shift of 49 seconds, even though there was 26+ minutes left in the game.

Mike Cammalleri has been visibly moping for weeks, he hasn't been scoring, and yet he has stayed on the Power Play and the top line.

The team, described by most other teams as one of the quickest in the league doesn't use their speed unless they have the puck.

To me, Jacques Martin actually did a good job here. The team this season has lost 150+ man-games to injury to key players, and yet they have held their heads above water. The fact remains the Jacques Martin "Passive resistance" style of play didn't suit this team.

Randy Cunneyworth has been named the new interim head coach, through seasons end. I find this interesting. To me, it signals that General Manager Pierre Gauthier is also on thin ice.


Randy Cunneyworth could be an excellent choice, and he could very well be the next permanent head coach of the team (providing he learns some work-able French), but the interim tag is important. It protects the organization if they fire the GM in that a the new GM could bring in his guy. It protects them if the team does well enough to keep Mr.Gauthier employed, but chooses not to keep Mr.Cunneyworth as head coach - for any reason.

I have a list in my head as to whom I think the next head coach of the Canadiens will be if Pierre Gauthier is the General Manager, and who it could be if he isn't. However, at this time I think it's prudent to, like the Canadiens, give Randy Cunneyworth his fair shake.

This will be Randy Cunneyworth's first NHL head coaching job. He spent two full seasons as an Assistant Coach for the Atlanta Thrashers. He coached the Canadiens' AHL affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs last season to a 44-27-9 record, and he spent 8 seasons as head coach of AHL Rochester Americans (306-267-67).

Randy Cunneyworth also played 866 NHL regular season games and 45 Playoff games. He served as Captain of the Ottawa Senators for three seasons.

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