Maine Hockey Journal

Cunneyworth hired by Atlanta; Sabres search for replacement underway

We can officially say now that Randy Cunneyworth will not be heading to the Pirates as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres new AHL affiliate in Portland.

Cunneyworth, who spent the better part of the last eight seasons has head coach of the Rochester Americans, was hired by the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday as an assistant coach, joining former Pirate Todd Nelson who was also hired as an assistant coach.

When the Sabres announce their affiliation with Portland back in June, it was believed that Cunneyworth coming to Portland would be a foregone conclusion, but as time passed by, questions began to arise as to his willingness in wanting to uproot his family and make a move 550 miles east for a lateral move.

Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier had conversations with Cunneyworth about his future within the Sabres’ organization as the head coach of Portland as well as Cunneyworth wanting to stay in Rochester. Since that time, Florida was given permission to talk with Cunneyworth about remaining as the head coach of the Americans.

Now that Cunneyworth has moved on, the Sabres now must find a new coach for the Portland Pirates, but they may not have to look far.

One potential candidate is former Pirates’ coach Kevin Dineen, whose contract ran out on July 1. He was offered a position within the Ducks organization including staying on as the head coach of the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in Des Moines, Iowa, but still hasn’t resigned with Anaheim. He’s also been a candidate for several coaching jobs in the NHL including the Los Angeles job that went to Terry Murray.

Another possible candidate could be Eric Weinrich, who has recently retired from the game and has indicated he would like stay in hockey, but only with the Pirates.

Regier indicated he would like to have something done within the next week to 10 days so fan may not have to wait long for an announcement.

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