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Former Montreal Canadiens interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth.
Another one of Gauthier’s messes that needed to be cleaned up was Montreal’s coaching situation.
Maybe Jacques Martin, who guided the Habs to the third round of the playoffs for the first time since 1993, wasn’t the right man for the job.
Maybe Gauthier, who possesses the soft skills of a brick to the back of a head, needed to first fire assistant coach Perry Pearn to seemingly toy with Martin before firing him 25 games later with a 13-12-7 record.
Maybe he even then needed to promote Randy Cunneyworth to the position of interim head coach for lack of a suitable alternative at the time.
However, he most certainly did not have to crumble under the external pressure from media types and fans alike and throw the unilingual, Anglophone Cunneyworth under the bus by essentially saying he would never be hired as the team’s official head coach.
Mr. Gauthier, a little advice if you ever find yourself in a similar position: Even if you’re thinking it, you don’t say it publicly. Hell, you don’t even do him the courtesy of letting him know behind closed doors…but, admittedly, that would be more for your personal safety than anything else. Just make sure there are witnesses around if you do.
What resulted from the public relations blunder was an underwhelming 18-23-9 team record under Cunneyworth, who was thrust into a less-than-ideal situation that would have made John McClane jealous. The team ended up sucking so much Hoover would have been a suitable sponsor, or at least a supplier of potentially just-as-good replacement players in a pinch.
In any case, Michel Therrien, who helped lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2008, is back, and despite his own shortcomings is still an undeniable improvement over Cunneyworth. During his last go-around with the team, he did accumulate a relatively decent 77-77-22-14 record.
Worst-case scenario: The Habs suck as much as they did before, but the local French media don’t scapegoat Anglophones as a result…unless Carey Price starts channeling Steve Penney (who actually is a Francophone, but still sucked except for in the playoffs, which, once I think about it, might be an improvement worth exploring).