Worst job in hockey? Coaching the Montreal Canadians.
There are two rules to it:
1) You must speak French
2) You must win
Cunneyworth doesn't speak French, and his record after today's loss is 11-14-3. So, in theory, he has done neither.
Granted, nothing much has been expected from him. He was named interim coach after Jacques Martin was fired. Martin had compiled a pretty good record in almost 2 1/2 years in Montreal (96-75-25). He took the Habs to the Conference finals two season's ago, and pushed them to 44 wins, and a 7 game loss to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Bruins last spring.
His record this year was 13-12-7 at the time of his dismissal. Little harsh, eh? Such is the risk you take when you coach the Habs.
The Habs have actually pushed hard for the last playoff spot. Despite the loss to the Devils today, the team is 5-2-1. Two of the wins (plus one loss) have been in shootouts.
That seems to be the whole problem with the Habs. Even with those two wins, the teams record is only 3-8 in shootouts.
The Habs are only 6 points back of the Leafs for the last playoff sport, although the Leafs have a game in hand. But the Habs must pass the Leafs, and four other teams below them to make it.
But what about Cunneyworth? What lies in store for him?
It will be interesting to see if the Canadians make the playoffs, what happens to him?
Back in 1971, Al MacNeil, who didn't speak French, took over a struggling Habs team that had missed the playoffs the season before. But in the playoffs, they upset Montreal, edged Minnesota, then eked out a seventh game win over Chicago to take hockey's holy grail.
The win was attributed as a fluke, thanks in large part to superb goaltending from Montreal's Ken Dryden. But MacNeil was called, "The most incompetent coach I ever played for", by Hab veteran Henri Richard. Add that to the no-speak-French problem, MacNeil was "demoted" to coach the Nova Scotia Voyageurs the next season. That would open to the door for Scotty Bowman, former St Louis Blues coach, to go on to the most successful coaching career ever in hockey.
But it should be noted, the last Hab coach to win the Stanley Cup, Jacques Demers, could neither read nor write.
I'd like to see Cunningworth succeed. He has vowed to learn French. I doubt he can by the end of the season, or even the start of the 2012-13 season.
So here is my guess on three outcomes for Randy:
Habs miss playoffs: leaves Canadians organization entirely
Habs make playoffs: demoted to stick boy of Hamilton Bulldogs
Habs win Stanley Cup: demoted to stick boy of Montreal Canadians
Irvin, Dick. The Habs: An Oral History Of The Montreal Canadiens, 1940-1980. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1991. Print.
Irvin, Dick. My 26 Stanley Cups: Memories of a Hockey Life. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2001. Print.
"Official Site Of The National Hockey League." NHL.com. The National Hockey League, n.d. Web. 20 Feb, 2012. <http://www.nhl.com>
Sports Reference LLC. Hockey-Reference.com - Hockey Statistics and History. http://www.hockey-reference.com/. Web. 20 Feb, 2012
Stubbs, Dave. "Canadiens Throw Randy Cunneyworth Under The Bus In Language Scuffle." National Post. Postmedia Network Inc., 04 Jan. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. <http://news.nationalpost.com/sports/nhl/canadiens-doing-randy-cunneyworth-no-favours-in-language-scuffle>.