Cunneyworth out as Montreal head coach, back as an assistant…for now

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Freshly-minted Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin met with the media today and, in accordance with the organizational mandate of keeping Randy Cunneyworth in limbo, had this to say:

“Randy Cunneyworth will return to the position of assistant coach. The new coach will decide if he will remain there.”

Before writing Cunneyworth’s obituary, we should note there have been instances (rare instances) where a head coach gets knocked down a peg, takes the assistant gig and survives under the new guy.

Back in 2004, the Colorado Avalanche “re-assigned” Tony Granato from head to assistant coach and brought in Joel Quenneville to run the show. Granato didn’t just survive as Quenneville’s assistant — he later re-claimed the head coaching gig when Quenneville left the organization in 2008.

So, Cunneyworth has that going for him.

What he doesn’t have going for him is a vote of confidence from the GM.

You can look at Bergevin’s move in two ways. One, by saying “I’m bringing Randy back as an assistant, but our head coach might go another direction,” he ensures bloodless hands if/when Cunneyworth get axed.

That’s the cynical way of looking at it.

The second (and more optimistic) way of looking at it is Bergevin’s merely giving the future head coach autonomy over his staff. The new coach can either hire his own assistant, or keep the old one.

But however you look at it, one fact remains: Cunneyworth still has no idea if he’ll be behind the Canadiens’ bench next season.