Sommer returning to Worcester

The San Jose Sharks announced Friday that Roy Sommer will return behind the Worcester Sharks bench in 2014-15 for a 17th season as the head coach of San Jose’s top development affiliate in the American Hockey League.

The team also announced that David Cunniff will not return as the Worcester Sharks’ associate coach in 2014-15, as he has decided to explore other coaching opportunities outside the organization.

Last season, Sommer broke the AHL record for most games coached (currently 1,268), and he ranks fourth in league history with 576 wins.

“The San Jose Sharks pride themselves in developing players within our organization and Roy has been an integral part of that success,” said San Jose Sharks assistant general manager and Worcester Sharks general manager Joe Will. “I am looking forward to work closely with Roy and his staff next season in Worcester with a primary goal of winning the Calder Cup.”

Cunniff had spent 12 seasons as the assistant/associate coach for San Jose’s AHL affiliates, with a primary focus on the defensive end. He was instrumental helping the Sharks rank second in the NHL in games played (6,003) by players selected in the NHL Draft since 2003.

“Coach Cunniff did a terrific job developing players over the last 12 years as an assistant and associate coach for the San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliates,” said Will. “David thought it was a good time personally to further his coaching career by entertaining new opportunities. The entire Sharks organization thanks David and his family for their commitment and wishes them nothing but continued success moving forward.”

In addition, Charlie Townsend will return for a second season as Worcester’s video coaching assistant while development coaches Mike Ricci, Bryan Marchment, Corey Schwab and Dirk Graham will all have a continued presence in Worcester during the 2014-15 season.