Ottawa dandy to Randy

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Randy Cunneyworth has always held a special place in his heart for the city of Ottawa.

The former Senators captain hasn't heard from anybody officially, but he admitted yesterday he'd be happy to get a call from newly appointed GM Bryan Murray about Ottawa's coaching job.

"Knowing some of the players and some of the people in that organization it's obviously a job I'd love to be considered for," Cunneyworth said from his Rochester, N.Y., home. "I don't know if anything is going to happen, but Ottawa is a place that's always been special to me. That's one of the places that I'd love to get the opportunity. I know what kind of team they have and it's a great job."

EX-67'S STAR

Cunneyworth, 46, a former captain of the 67's, has spent the last seven years with the Sabres' AHL affiliate in Rochester. His contract expires June 30.

He may be considered for an assistant's job in Buffalo, where coach Lindy Ruff recently signed a three-year contract extension.

Cunneyworth isn't likely to return to the Amerks.

"I would like the chance to see what I can accomplish (in the NHL)," said Cunneyworth.

Sources say Cunneyworth is on a list of seven or eight names Murray has compiled after he decided to give up coaching to focus on the front-office duties.

Murray isn't afraid to go on his gut instinct, which means he may not necessarily go for a recycled coach just because he has experience.

When Murray was the Ducks' GM, he hired Mike Babcock out of the minors.

Cunneyworth is highly regarded and Ottawa isn't going to be his only opportunity to land an NHL job.

"I know one thing about Randy Cunneyworth: Every player he sent up to the Sabres last year was ready to play in the NHL," a league executive said yesterday.

PADDOCK TOPS LIST

Senators assistant coach John Paddock joins Cunneyworth as one of the front-runners for the job, along with former Leafs coach Pat Quinn and London Knights bench boss Dale Hunter, who played for Murray in Washington.

Expect Kitchener Rangers coach Peter DeBoer to get consideration, along with Red Deer Rebels coach Brent Sutter. Those two have had opportunities to make the jump to the NHL in the past and have passed.

A name taken off the top of the list is former New Jersey coach Claude Julien. He has a deal to take over behind the Bruins bench and it's believed Boston GM Peter Chiarelli moved quickly to get an agreement because he was afraid Murray would try to hire Julien.

Hunter wasn't commenting yesterday. A spokesman for the Knights said he was getting ready to make the trip to Columbus for this weekend's NHL draft. He referred all questions to London assistant GM Jim McKellar.

McKellar said Hunter has done a standout job.

"We've won (the OHL title) four straight years and he's a big reason why," said McKellar. "He's a strong teacher and a student of the game. He just understands the game so well."

Quinn could not be reached for comment.

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ODDS ARE ...

- John Paddock: Senators assistant coach is the leading candidate: 2-1

- Randy Cunneyworth: Former Senators captain is a hot commodity: 5-1

- Dale Hunter: OHL coach played for Senators GM Bryan Murray in Washington: 10-1

- Pat Quinn: Ex-Leafs coach would make the Battle of Ontario interesting again: 15-1

- Pat Burns: Former Gatineau cop will likely return to the Devils: 500-1

- Brent Sutter: He turned down his brother in Calgary: 1,000-1


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