It's True: Martin Out And Cunneyworth In

The Jacques Martin experience is official over.  The Randy Cunneyworth experiment has officially started.  As announced in the press conference, general manager Pierre Gauthier has fired coach Jacques Martin.

Martin has been the coach of the Habs since the 2008-09 season.  His overall record is 96-75-25.  He has 12 wins and 14 losses in the playoffs.  

Gauthier has been mulling over this decision for the past few days.  He has been dissapointed at the inconsistent play and how the team has finished or not finished games off in the third period.  With the approval of owner Geoff Molson and lack of sleep last night he met with Martin to give him the news this morning.

Gauthier has known Randy Cunneyworth since their days together in Ottawa.  Cunneyworth was the captain for the Senators before returning to the Buffalo Sabres organization.  He was originally drafted by the Sabres.  He has been an assistant coach with the Rochester Americains and the Atlanta Thrashers.  Both he and Randy Ladouceur were coaches for the Hamilton Bulldogs last season.  Guathier reiterated that an external search was not conducted because he believes the talent is in the organization.

Ladouceur will continue with his role as assistant coach.  Larry Carriere will be brought on as the assistant coach.   Carriere has worked with Cunneyworth in the Sabres organization.  A member of the media asked Gauthier if the sole reason Carriere was brought into the organization was his ability to speak french.  Gauthier denied that reasoning and stated it was Carriere's experience working with Cunneyworth and his knowledge of the NHL which were the factors.

Cunneyworth was asked if he understands the importance of speaking french.  He said that he understood the market and realized that learning the language is important.  He took classes as a teen when attending school in Toronto but will also take courses now.  But with the interim tag still attached to his name, I don't think he should  even attempt to take any courses.  Ultimately Gauthier will re-evaluate his position in the summer not on his french skills but on the play of the team.

Cunneyworth stated that his style will reflect the teams' abilities and its' players.  The team is a fast skating but smallish team so he will have a style to take use of all the players' best assets.  He will attempt to make all the players accountable for all their actions even with the high salaries and egos.  

Louis Leblanc's name popped up in the questions.  The media has been harping on the fact that Leblanc got limited ice time after his first goal against Philadelphia on Thursday.  He didn't even get a chance on the ill fated 5-3.  Gauthier said the Leblanc will be evaluated in the next couple of days.

So do this morning's events surprise me?  Absoluletly they do.  It surprises me because it occured on a game day.  It didn't occur next summer, and Gauthier and Martin weren't let go together.  It surprise me because Cunneyworth is an anglophone who isn't adepth at french.  Bob Berry was the last anglophone to get the head coaching job in Montreal but at least he could answer a few questions.  

Cunneyworth will be respected by the players.  He played in the NHL and was a captain.  He coached some of the team in Hamilton.  He coaches with emotion.  All the things that Martin didn't have or didn't do.  

Its a new day in Montreal.  The sun is shining.  Bring on the Devils.

Shahab Khan the Schoolboy



George Prax's picture

I don't really like that they have to make this about language already. The team is hanging by the skin of their teeth about the cellar of the East and Randy Cunneyworth has to recognize the importance of speaking French? BS.

Shahab Khan's picture

If the Toronto Maple Leafs hired a french only coach who couldn't answer the media's questions...then what would the english media in Toronto say?

George Prax's picture

They would be upset, most certainly, but why does that have to be an issue? There are coaches in the KHL and other Euro leagues that have coaches that don't speak their teams native tongues. Hell, in soccer, where the media is even worse than it is for hockey in Canada, it's common that teams will hire a foreign coach. Greece won the Euro cup with a German coach that probably couldn't speak a word of Greek. Why should teams make moves to satisfy the media and the hard line separatists? If Randy Cunneyworth is the right person to turn this team around on the ice (not saying he is but bear with him), then it shouldn't matter whether he speaks English, French, Greek, Russian, or Martian. It's how he communicates with the team, not Luc Gelinas or Francois Gagnon.