Benoit Groulx coached Team Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship (Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Benoit Groulx was considered a contender for one of the vacant coaching positions, but the Tampa Bay Lightning have scooped up the now-former Gatineau Olympiques GM and coach. Groulx will take over as coach of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch.
Scratch another name off of the list of potential NHL bench bosses.
The Syracuse Crunch announced Tuesday that they’ve relieved coach Rob Zettler of his duties as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning AHL affiliate, and Benoit Groulx, who was considered a candidate for one of the NHL openings, will take over behind the Crunch bench.
Zettler had coached the Crunch for the past four seasons after taking over behind the bench during the back half of the 2012-13 campaign. Under Zettler, the Crunch had a 108-90-41 record, but after he led the team to the Calder Cup final in his first year behind the bench after taking over from Jon Cooper, the Crunch had failed to recapture the same level of success. Syracuse missed the playoffs in 2013-14, exited in the first round in 2014-15 and missed the post-season again this past season.
His replacement, Groulx, comes on as Crunch coach after six successful seasons as coach and GM of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, as well as a gold medal as coach of Team Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship.
“Benoit Groulx has a long track record as a winning head coach,” Crunch GM and Lightning assistant GM Julien BriseBois said in a release. “Throughout his career, he has consistently gotten the most out of his players and his teams. We are very excited to be adding Benoit to our organization. Our players in Syracuse will benefit from his tremendous leadership and his relentless pursuit of excellence…In hiring Benoit Groulx, we feel we have the absolute best person for the job.”
This won’t be the 48-year-old Groulx’s first attempt at stepping behind an AHL bench, though. Previously, he coached the Rochester Americans for two seasons. In his first season coaching the Amerks, Groulx led Rochester to a slight improvement, but his second season saw a 15-win increase over the year prior. The Americans had a 73-76-11 record under Groulx, but he left the organization following his second season to return to the Olympiques.
Groulx was reportedly interviewed for the vacant coaching position with the Ottawa Senators, but that job has since been filled by Guy Boucher, who himself was once a coach in the Lightning organization.
Though Groulx is taking over, assistant coach Trent Cull will remain on the staff. As for Zettler, BriseBois said he’ll be offered another position.
“I’d like to personally thank Rob Zettler on behalf of the Lightning organization for his dedication and service to the Crunch,” BriseBois said. “Rob is a strong hockey man and he has been an important contributor to the overall mission of the Tampa Bay Lightning.”