Maine Hockey Journal

Could the Pirates be looking for a new head coach??

When the Portland Pirates step on the ice this fall, many already knew it was going to be a different cast of characters on the ice. Back in early June, the Pirates announced a new three-year affiliation agreement with the Buffalo Sabres, ending their previous relationship with the Anaheim Ducks.

It was going to be a new experience for the Pirates, but the Sabres were expecting to see many of the same faces make the jump from Rochester, the Sabres previous affiliate for the past 29 years, to Portland.

That may not be the case now.

During the affiliation announcement back on June 10, there was an expectation that Randy Cunneyworth would become the new head coach of the Pirates, pending the interest and outcome of him pursuing potential NHL assistant coaching jobs.

“The job is open for Randy and the only thing that would step in front of that or cause any type of change would be in the event that Randy got a job in the National Hockey League,” said Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier at the June 10th press conference. “Pending him going to the National Hockey League, Randy will be (in Portland).

Apparently, other NHL teams have shown real interest in Cunneyworth, as they should because he’s a quality coach and teacher with the young players because at Monday’s press conference held at HSBC Arena, Regier didn’t sound as optimistic on the status of Cunneyworth.

“We’d love to have Randy back,” said Regier.

“He’s gotten some interest as an assistant coach in the National Hockey League, so we’ll wait on that decision. He’s well aware that we’d love to have him in Portland, but we’ll wait on him.”

A decision would have to come with in short order as the number of potential outside candidates is dwindling.

The Sabres’ could look to hire within as they have several quality possibilities in Brian McCutcheon or James Patrick as potential replacements.

Cunneyworth is under contract with the Sabres until the end of August.

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The Sabres prospect camp is set to get underway on Wednesday, but missing will be Nathan Gerbe and Andrew Orpik, but that’s ok with the Sabres.

Gerbe and Orpik were part of the NCAA National Champion Boston College Eagles, who are scheduled on Wednesday to meet with President Bush at the White House.

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