Canadiens Add Cunneyworth, Ladouceur to Coaching Staff

It's been a tumultuous few months for the Montreal Canadiens, at least when it comes to their assistant coaching staff. Ever since January, it had been rumored that this past season would be the last for Kirk Muller behind the bench, looking to further his career in the league and eventually achieve his goal of being an NHL head coach.

Last month, Muller would take the necessary steps in order to achieve this goal, but accepting a job as the head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, Nashville's farm team. This decision would leave a massive gap behind the Canadiens bench.

Muller had long been described as a "player's coach". An assistant the players could connect with. One that seemed warmer, closer, than the usually removed Jacques Martin, who isn't exactly known to be a master communicator. A more offensive-minded coach, but one with a good grasp on Martin's defensive system, Muller survived five years in Montreal and left a lasting imprint on whatever success the Canadiens achieved in that time, from his beginnings in 2006 as an inexperienced assistant beside the just-as-inexperienced Guy Carbonneau, to impressing Bob Gainey enough to talk Martin into keeping him on a few years later, to earning the respect of the fans over the last two seasons.

Think of his as the Yin to Martin's Yang. The butter on his roll. The Cheech Marin to his Don Johnson, the Scully to his Mulder, the Jackie Chan to his Chris Tucker.

So, yes, losing Kirk Muller is a bad thing. There's no way around it. And Martin definitely recognized this by keeping him on board for two seasons. He was the antithesis to the Martin system, but he was willing to work inside it. Which is why you might catch Habs fans so upset about this.

But his departure was inevitable. Muller wants to be a head coach in the NHL, and these days, seemingly the only way to achieve that is to be a head coach in the AHL. So he had to leave. We could look at this as the second potential coaching prospect lost in as many years -- thanks again, Stevie Y -- or we could look at this positively, both for Muller and for the Canadiens' ability to pick the good ones.

And from my perspective, the Canadiens definitely have another "good one" in line, and along with Randy Ladouceur, they just promoted him to take the empty spot next to Martin next season.

Today, the Montreal Canadiens plucked Randy Cunneyworth from the Hamilton Bulldogs to make him assistant coach of the main team, along with his own assistant, Ladouceur. Cunneyworth is a 20 year veteran of the NHL, playing with seven NHL teams, most notably with the Ottawa Senators, where, for all intents and purposes, he ended his playing career and played under, you guessed it, Jacques Martin. After seven seasons in Ottawa, Cunneyworth would play two more years, mostly with the Rochester Americans. In his last year, he was a player-coach, before retiring and becoming the team's head coach for eight years.

After a brief stint in Atlanta as an assistant, Cunneyworth would be hired by Martin and the Canadiens to coach the Bulldogs, where in one season, he would lead the team to a 44-27-9 record, a North Division championship, and a three-round playoff run. That, and his history with Martin, would be enough to bring the former left-winger to the big leagues, where he will likely serve as the offensive coach and "communicator", a role left open by Muller.

Joining him will be Ladouceur. The Brockville, Ontario native played nearly 1000 games in the NHL as a defenseman with the Red Wings, Whalers, and Ducks, serving as the captain of the team for the latter two. He's just as experienced in the NHL, spending eight years behind the bench in Hartford/Carolina before coaching in Toronto.

Clement Jodoin, the four-year coach of the Rimouski Oceanic will be taking over in Hamilton.

It's tough to say how Cunneyworth and Ladouceur will work out in Montreal, but they were both definitely easy coaches for Martin and Gauthier. Martin is comfortable and familiar with Cunneyworth, and Cunneyworth is comfortable and familiar with Ladouceur, and both have had their fair share of success at many levels. The question that remains, however, is whether the two will be able to fulfill the same balancing-act that made the Martin-Muller partnership so successful.

With the coaching staff now populated once again, most of the players signed and summer progressing quickly, all that's left is for the Canadiens so F***ING SIGN JOSH GORGES.

What do you think of these additions to the coaching staff? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.


Glen Miller's picture

I like the Cunneyworth hire and wonder if he may not be the "coach in waiting" so to speak.
As far as Gorges goes, do you find it interesting that he only got one year and will be able to test the waters next year as a free agent?

George Prax's picture

I think it's more the team that doesn't have faith in Gorges (knee surgery) than the other way around. Gorges wants to be a Hab, I believe, and it's Gauthier who didn't want to give him a long deal. So settling before the arbitration was obvious in my opinion, as it was going to be a one year deal either way. If he walks away next year, this is all on Gauthier... but more on this in my blog tomorrow.

And I like Cunneyworth a lot too, from what i've seen. Definitely a coach in the making.