Atlanta adds more Calder Cup experience to staff

The Atlanta Thrashers announced on Thursday that Randy Cunneyworth and Todd Nelson have joined the coaching staff as assistants under head coach John Anderson.

“Randy and Todd have a great deal of experience and we’re fortunate to be adding them to the coaching staff,” said Anderson.  “They will complement what we already have in place and will bring additional expertise to the team. I’m looking forward to working closely as a staff and beginning our first season together.”

Cunneyworth, 47, just completed his eighth season at the helm of the AHL’s Rochester Americans and earned a 306-267-67 record in 640 career games behind the Amerks bench.  He ranks second on the franchise’s all-time list for games coached and wins and is only the second coach in the franchise’s 52-year history to coach as many as 500 games. 

Cunneyworth had his best coaching season in 2004-05 when he led Rochester to a 51-23-6 record, 112 points and the team’s first-ever Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as the league’s regular-season points champion. He was honored with the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach, becoming only the third Rochester coach to win the award.

Prior to his coaching career, the Etobicoke, Ont., native played 20 seasons of professional hockey, including 16 seasons in the NHL with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Hartford, Chicago and Ottawa. In 866 career NHL games Cunneyworth recorded 414 points (189 goals, 225 assists) and served as captain for Ottawa for three seasons (1995-1998). He appeared in 273 career AHL games with Rochester and Springfield, tallying 270 points (166 goals, 104 assists) and winning a Calder Cup with the Americans in 1983.

Nelson, 39, had spent the last two seasons working as an assistant coach for Anderson in Chicago (AHL), winning the 2008 Calder Cup with the Wolves. The Prince Albert, Sask., native broke into the coaching ranks during the 2001-02 season as a player/assistant coach with the Muskegon Fury of the former United Hockey League, then spent one season as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins before returning to Muskegon to make his head coaching debut with the Fury in 2003-04.

Nelson played 12 seasons of professional hockey, which included NHL stints with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.  He appeared in 306 career AHL games with the Portland Pirates, Hershey Bears, Rochester Americans and Grand Rapids Griffins, totaling 168 points (37 goals, 131 assists) and 223 penalty minutes. Nelson captured the 1994 Calder Cup with Portland and was inducted into that franchise’s Hall of Fame in 2007.