Amerks coach Cunneyworth eyes options

July 18, 2007 - By

(July 18, 2007)  The Buffalo Sabres are holding open the job as head coach of the Rochester Americans for Randy Cunneyworth, but whether he returns for an eighth season will be based upon decisions made by other NHL teams.

Cunneyworth met with Florida Panthers coach and general manager Jacques Martin over the weekend. Martin has an opening on his coaching staff because assistant George Kingston won’t return.

Cunneyworth played under Martin with the Ottawa Senators and was the team’s captain for four seasons (1994-95 to 1997-98).

New Ottawa Senators coach John Paddock reportedly is giving consideration to hiring him as an assistant as well.

Cunneyworth has coached the Amerks the past seven seasons, the longest uninterrupted tenure in the franchise’s 51-year history.

But with no changes planned on the Sabres coaching staff, he is looking elsewhere for a chance to move up to the NHL. He is under contract to the Sabres until the end of August but Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said he has granted “more than one” team permission to speak with Cunneyworth.

“Obviously in his situation, he’s open to returning, but he’s also at a point in his career where he’s looking at a potential move to the National Hockey League,” Regier said.

“His same position (in Rochester) is open and will remain open. We’d be happy to renew it at any time.”

Cunneyworth wasn’t available for comment.

Regier said the organization won’t proceed on renewing the contract of Amerks assistant coach Moe Mantha until Cunneyworth’s situation is resolved. That would seem to indicate Mantha would be considered for the head coaching job should Cunneyworth leave.

KEVINO@DemocratandChronicle.com

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