Coaching hires: Habs add Cunneyworth and Ladouceur, Jets nab Vincent

NHL teams continue to tweak their coaching staffs this summer. Let’s take a look at four of today’s moves featuring two different teams.

Cunneyworth and Ladouceur might be familiar to NHL fans since they both enjoyed lengthy playing careers. Cunneyworth played 15 seasons in the NHL and also bounced around the AHL a bit during a span that ranged from 1981-1999. Ladouceur appeared in 14 NHL seasons from 1982-1996. Some will remember them for those long careers while others might recall that their skills didn’t exactly “translate well” to video games.

The duo helped the Bulldogs earn a 44-27-9 record (97 points), good enough for a North Division title. The Bulldogs made it to the Western Conference finals before bowing to the Houston Aeros.

Here’s a little more about Cunneyworth:

Before joining the Bulldogs, Cunneyworth was an assistant coach with the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers for two seasons (2008-09 and 2009-10). He previously spent nine seasons with the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans, including seven seasons as head coach from 2000 to 2008. During his tenure with the Americans, he led his team to three 40-plus win seasons, two 100-point seasons and six playoff berths. He left Rochester as the longest serving coach in franchise history and ranks second on the club’s all-time wins list.

The Canadiens shared more details about Ladouceur’s career as well.

Randy Ladouceur is returning to the NHL, where he served for ten seasons as an assistant coach between 1996 and 2008.

Ladouceur began his coaching career as an assistant with the Hartford Whalers in 1996-97. The franchise then moved to Carolina, where he served for seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Hurricanes (1997 to 2004). Following a full season as head coach of the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League in 2005-06, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching staff as an assistant for two seasons (2006-07 and 2007-08). Before joining the Bulldogs, he was assistant coach with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs (2009-10).

  • Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets’ new look coaching staff seems like it’s nearing completion.

The team already hired head coach Claude Noel and a handful of assistants, but TSN reports that they added Pascal Vincent today. Like many of the recent hires, Vincent has been successful in the minor league ranks.

The 39-year-old Vincent coached the Montreal Juniors to a 46-12-10 record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season.

The Laval, Que., native has an all-time QMJHL coaching record of 429-313-87 to go along with nine playoff series wins.

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson
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Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
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Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.