The Rochester Americans have a coach. Randy Cunneyworth is back.
Cunneyworth, who coached the team from 2000-01 to 07-08, was named head coach of the Buffalo Sabres' American Hockey League affiliate on Tuesday afternoon.
Cunneyworth replaces Chadd Cassidy, who was fired after the 2014-15 season, in which the Amerks went 29-41-5-1 to rank 27th in the 30-team AHL. Cassidy, who was hired by former Sabres general manager Darcy Regier, had been the Amerks' coach since February 2013 following the elevation of Ron Rolston to head coach of the Sabres.
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The complete Rochester Americans press release:
Buffalo Sabres General Manager Tim Murray announced today that Randy Cunneyworth has been named Head Coach of the Rochester Americans, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Sabres.
“We are happy to have Randy Cunneyworth move into the role of head coach of the Rochester Americans,” said Murray. “Randy has already established himself as a valuable member of our hockey department in his previous role as development coach, and his track record for winning in the AHL and developing young players make him the ideal candidate to lead the Amerks.”
Cunneyworth returns for his second stint as head coach of the Amerks after guiding the team to a 306-273-61 record, as well as playoff appearances in six of eight seasons, from 2000-01 to 2007-08. His 306 wins are second-most in team history. In 2004-05, Cunneyworth led Rochester to the AHL’s best regular-season record, going 51-19-6-4 to capture the MacGregor Kilpatrick Trophy. That season, Cunneyworth also earned the Louis A. R. Pieri Award as the AHL Coach of the Year.
Most recently, Cunneyworth served as Development Coach for the Sabres organization. Before re-joining the team during the 2013-14 season, Cunneyworth served as interim head coach for the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens during the 2011-12 campaign. After starting the season as an assistant coach, Cunneyworth was promoted to interim head coach on Dec. 17, 2011 and guided the Canadiens to an 18-23-9 record in 50 games. His tenure in the Montreal organization also featured a one-year stint as head coach of the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, whom he guided to a first-place finish in the AHL’s North Division followed by a trip to the Western Conference Final during the 2011 Calder Cup Playoffs.
In nine seasons as an AHL head coach with Rochester and Hamilton, Cunneyworth has compiled a record of 350-302-68 in 720 games, which ranks him eighth all-time in wins and games coached among AHL head coaches. He also ranks second among active coaches in games coached and third among active coaches in wins.
Prior to his time with the Canadiens organization, Cunneyworth spent two seasons as an assistant coach for the Atlanta Thrashers (2008-09 and 2009-10). He began his coaching career as a player-assistant coach with the Amerks under former head coach Brian McCutcheon during the 1999-00 AHL season and helped the team to an appearance in the Calder Cup Final. Upon his retirement as a player, he was hired by the Amerks to serve as head coach the following season and retained that post for eight seasons, the longest consecutive tenure of any coach in team history.
During the 2006-07 season, Cunneyworth became only the second coach in team history to work 500 career games. He also passed legendary coach Joe Crozier for second place on Rochester’s all-time wins list.
Cunneyworth’s most successful season at the helm of the Amerks came during the 2004-05 campaign, when he guided Rochester to an AHL-best 51-19-6-4 record (112 points). In addition to earning the Louis A.R. Pieri Award as the AHL’s Coach of the Year, the Amerks set several single-season franchise records, including most points (112) and the longest home winning streak which saw Rochester win 17 consecutive home games between Dec. 17 and Mar. 4.
As a player, Cunneyworth had an NHL career that spanned parts of 16 seasons, including three as team captain of the Ottawa Senators. He began his NHL career with the Sabres in 1980-81 after the team selected him in the eighth round of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft and returned to Buffalo in the 1998-99 season for what would be his final NHL season. In 866 career NHL games with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Hartford, Chicago and Ottawa, the Etobicoke, Ontario, native registered 414 points on 189 goals and 225 assists along with 1,280 penalty minutes.
Aside from two games with the Springfield Indians, Cunneyworth spent his entire American Hockey League career in Rochester. He began his career with the Amerks as a rookie in 1980-81 and went on to record 239 points (101+138) in 377 games over parts of seven seasons, highlighted by a Calder Cup championship in 1982-83. Cunneyworth would spend two more seasons with the Amerks before departing for the NHL in 1985-86, where he would remain for the next 13 seasons. He would ultimately find his way back to the Sabres in 1998-99, helping Buffalo to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final while also taking the Amerks to the Calder Cup Final that same year and again in 2000 as a player-coach for Rochester.
Cunneyworth retired from hockey following the 1999-00 season, ending his career in Rochester ranked 13th on the franchise’s all-time games played list (377) and 19th in goals (101) while finishing 22nd among all-time forwards in points (239).