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Benoit Groulx named Americans head coach

roc06_200.jpgThe Florida Panthers, parent club of the AHL’s Rochester Americans, announced today that Benoit Groulx has been named head coach of the Americans.

“We are very pleased to welcome Benoit into our organization,” said Panthers general manager Jacques Martin. “He has done a very good job in developing a winning program in Gatineau and he has also experienced great success for Team Canada at the international level. Benoit is a coach that is respected throughout hockey for his ability to get the most out of his players. We are confident that the fans in Rochester will be happy with the work ethic and winning attitude that Benoit will demand from his players next season.”

Groulx becomes the 27th head coach in the 53-year history of the Rochester franchise. He replaces Randy Cunneyworth, who recently accepted an assistant coaching position with the National Hockey League’s Atlanta Thrashers after spending eight years behind the Amerks’ bench.

Groulx, 40, has guided the Gatineau Olympiques (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) to three league titles (2003, 2004 & 2008) in the last six years. This season, Groulx’s team posted a 43-19-6 record and defeated the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to earn the 2008 QMJHL title and advance to the Memorial Cup. He has served as the bench boss for Gatineau since midway through the 2001-02 season.

As a player, Groulx played four seasons (1985-1989) of junior hockey with the Granby Bisons of the QMJHL. In 170 total games with Granby, he recorded 255 points (78+177) and 84 PIM. Groulx also had a two-year stint (1995-1997) with Brest of the French league, scoring 82 points (25+57) while adding 32 PIM in 48 games.

This past June, Hockey Canada selected Groulx to be the head coach of Canada’s national junior team for the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championships in Ottawa. Groulx has twice represented Canada in international competition. He served as an assistant coach under Brent Sutter for the 2007 Canada-Russia Super Series, which Canada won, and he was also part of the coaching staff for the 2004 World Junior Team, which also earned Canada a gold medal.