Bolts name Groulx new AHL head coach

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The Lightning have named decorated junior bench boss Benoit Groulx as the new head coach of their AHL affiliate in Syracuse.

“Benoit Groulx has a long track record as a winning head coach. Throughout his career, he has consistently gotten the most out of his players and his teams,” Bolts assistant GM Julien BriseBois said in a release. “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.”

Groulx, 48, has spent most of the last 15 years coaching in the QMJHL (largely with Gatineau), save a two-year stint as the head coach of AHL Rochester. He also led Team Canada to gold at the 2015 World Juniors.

The Lightning have had some success drafting out of the Quebec league in recent years. Jonathan Drouin (Halifax), Cedric Paquette (Blainville-Boisbriand) and Ondrej Palat (Drummondville) all played their junior hockey there, with Palat being one of the franchise’s best finds — he was taken in the seventh round in 2011.

Groulx has developed a reputation for his ability to work with young players. Per TVA, the Sens had considered him for their vacant AHL gig in Binghamton.

The Groulx hire does, however, signify the end of Rob Zettler’s time as Syracuse’s head coach. Zettler had been behind the Crunch bench for the last five years — one as an assistant, four as head coach — and led the team to the ’13 Calder Cup final, taking over for Jon Cooper after Cooper was promoted to the NHL.

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