Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray announced today that Dan Lambert has been named head coach of the Rochester Americans, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Sabres. Randy Cunneyworth has been reassigned to a position within the Sabres Player Development department.
“We had a plan in place going into last season to eventually promote Dan to head coach of the Americans and transition Randy back to player development,” said Murray. “With his experience as a Sabres assistant last season, we felt Dan was ready to take on the added responsibility of being a head coach and implementing our organizational philosophy in Rochester.”
Lambert becomes the 31st coach in Amerks franchise history and joins the team after spending the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres. Lambert was part of head coach Dan Bylsma’s coaching staff in Buffalo that guided the team to a 27-point improvement in the standings over the previous season.
Prior to joining the Sabres, Lambert led the Kelowna Rockets (WHL) to a 53-13-6 record and a Western Conference title in his first season as head coach in 2014-15. The Rockets followed up their regular-season success by posting a 16-3 record in the WHL Playoffs, winning the Ed Chynoweth Cup and earning a berth in the Memorial Cup, where the team fell to the Oshawa Generals (OHL) in the Final.
Before taking over as head coach in Kelowna in 2014-15, Lambert spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Rockets from 2009-10 to 2013-14. During that time, the Rockets compiled a record of 218-117-9-16 (.640 points percentage), including a league-best 57-11-0-4 mark in 2013-14. The St. Boniface, Manitoba, native began his coaching career with Kelowna immediately after retiring from his playing career.
Lambert enjoyed a 19-year professional career as a player after being drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the sixth round (106th overall) of the 1989 NHL Draft and netted 15 points (6+9) in 29 NHL games for Quebec. Lambert also appeared in 614 combined AHL/IHL games with Fort Wayne, Halifax, Moncton, San Diego and Los Angeles, totaling 474 points (120+354) and 845 penalty minutes.
He was named the IHL’s outstanding defenseman in 1997-98 after recording 78 points (19+59) in 81 games for Los Angeles. He went on to spend 10 seasons playing in Germany (DEL), including five seasons as the captain of the Hannover Scorpions. In 488 DEL games, Lambert had 299 points (80+219) and 667 penalty minutes.
Cunneyworth, who re-joined the Amerks prior to last season for his second stint with the team and ninth season overall as Rochester’s head coach, previously worked in Buffalo’s player development department in 2013-14 and 2014-15. On March 23, 2016, Cunneyworth set the franchise record for most career coaching victories (338) in a win over the St. John’s IceCaps.