Bouchard named head coach of Crunch

The Tampa Bay Lightning have named Joel Bouchard as head coach of the Syracuse Crunch. In addition, Daniel Jacob has been named assistant coach.

Bouchard, 49, joins the Crunch with 242 games of experience as an AHL head coach with Laval (2018-21) and San Diego (2021-22), posting a record of 111-100-18-13. He led the Rocket to the Canadian Division title in 2020-21.

“We are thrilled to welcome Joel to the Lightning and Crunch organizations,” said Lightning vice president and general manager Julien Brisebois. “The head coach position for our American Hockey League affiliate is one of paramount importance with regards to our player development program. Joel brings a contagious enthusiasm to everything he undertakes. He is a strong leader with a proven track record in helping players and teams reach their full potential. With him overseeing the pipeline of future Lightning players on a day-to-day basis, we expect Joel to be an important contributor to the overall mission of the Tampa Bay Lightning for years to come.”

Bouchard replaces Benoit Groulx, who will be offered another position within the Lightning organization. Groulx, the Crunch’s head coach since 2016-17, is the all-time franchise leader in wins (256), and guided the team to two division titles and a trip to the Calder Cup Finals in 2017.

A native of Montreal, Bouchard spent seven seasons from 2011-18 as general manager of the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), while also serving as head coach from 2014-18. In 272 games behind the Armada bench, he posted a 160-80-32 record, including consecutive QMJHL President Cup Finals appearances in 2017 and 2018. He also served as an assistant coach with the Montreal Junior of the QMJHL from 2008-11 before the franchise relocated to Blainville-Boisbriand in 2011.

Bouchard also served as the general manager of the Canadian National Junior Team for two years, assembling a roster that won a gold medal at the 2018 World Junior Championship and silver in the 2017 tournament.

Bouchard played 15 professional seasons (1993-2008) as a defenseman, including 364 National Hockey League games with Calgary, Nashville, Dallas, Phoenix, New Jersey, the N.Y. Rangers, Pittsburgh and the N.Y. Islanders. Bouchard also appeared in 293 games in the AHL with the Saint John Flames, Albany River Rats, Hartford Wolf Pack, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Hamilton Bulldogs, and was an AHL All-Star in 1995 and 1996.