Today, the masses were silenced in Montreal as Jacques Martin was relieved of his duties as head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Former assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth was named head coach on an interim basis. In my opinion, it’s about time. This year. Martin has lead Montreal to 20th place in the league, 11th in the conference and last in the northeast. 33 points isn’t too bad, but considering 7 of them have come from shootout and OT losses, the season hasn’t been much of a success.
Now we Habs fans turn the reigns over to Mr. Randy Cunneyworth in hopes of turning this season around. Cunneyworth, a former NHL player who captained the Ottawa Senators and played alongside Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh. As far as coaching goes, Cunneyworth has experience coaching in the AHL and assistant coaching in the NHL. In the AHL, Cunneyworth coached the Rochester Americans to a 306-267-67 reacord over eight seasons. The following season, he accepted a position as an assistant coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. After the struggling Thrashers finished the season, they elected to proceed with a clean slate behind the bench, this is when Cunneyworth got the opportunity to join the Canadiens organization.
Cunneyworth starts the 2010-2011 campaign as the head coach for the Hamilton Bulldogs. He lead them through a great season and ultimately, a disappointing playoff loss to Binghamton Senators. Now, as we all know Randy was promoted to the big club at the beginning of this season as an assistant coach and now, the big wig, the media magnet, the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens.
There’s something ironic about the whole thing though. I remember when the news had been broken this summer, that Cunneyworth had accepted a position as assistant coach. This stood out to me so much because Cunneywoth is related to onw of my closest friends. This friend’s favourite team was whatever team his uncle was affiliated with, but always hated the Montreal Canadiens. So it’s been really weird, but fun seeing him have to cheer for the Habs.
That though is not what is ironic about this whole thing. I remember I was at my friend’s house talking about it with his dad, who told me Cunneyworth had absolutely no shot at ever becoming head coach, only because he didn’t speak french. Now, Cunneyworth becomes the first non-french speaking coach in something like 41 years to get behind the bench.
For some time now, fans in Montreal, both anglophone and francophone have been criticizing the hiring process for coaches that could potentially see better candidates get passed up on because they don’t speak french. I could not agree more with those who oppose this, I don’t care if the coach only speaks Japanese, if he gets the team to win then who cares? True, the media might suffer not being able to ask a Japanese coach questions but I’m suffering watching my team lose.
You can see Randy in action in his first game as an NHL head coach in a bout 8 minutes when the Habs take on th e New Jersey Devils.
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(Photo: Ron Albertson/The Hamilton Spectator)