When considering the coaches currently outside of the NHL that could have a future in it, one name is often brought up. Ben Groulx, head coach of the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch, has been successful at every level so far, but has yet to receive an opportunity at the highest level. Though there are several openings in the NHL this season, it doesn’t appear as though Groulx will be persuing them, as the minor league coach has signed a new contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning to remain Crunch head coach for 2021-22.
Lightning AGM and Crunch GM Stacy Roest released a statement:
We are excited to agree to a new contract and have Ben Groulx return as head coach of the Syracuse Crunch. Over the past five seasons, Ben has proven to be a key part of our organization. His leadership and structure have played an important role in developing our prospects, consistently producing a competitive Syracuse Crunch team and contributing to the success of the Tampa Bay Lightning. We look forward to continued growth with Ben behind the bench.
It’s no exaggeration to call Groulx one of the most successful coaches in the AHL. Over his five seasons, he has compiled a record of 179-100-42 and made the Calder Cup playoffs in each of the three years they were held. In 2016-17, he took the Crunch to the finals, losing in six games to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Deep playoff runs are nothing new for Groulx, who won three QMJHL championships during his time in junior hockey.
He also added a World Junior gold medal as head coach of Team Canada in 2015, a group that included Tampa Bay star Brayden Point. It’s the development of young talent that has made Groulx so valuable for the Lightning, who continue to churn NHL players out of their minor league system regardless of draft pedigree. Players like Yanni Gourde, Mitchell Stephens, Anthony Cirelli, and Mathieu Joseph have all developed rapidly under the tutelage of Groulx in the AHL. Even many that are in other organizations like Carter Verhaeghe and Adam Erne have a lot to thank the Crunch coach for after spending time honing their craft in the AHL.
At least for now, that development system will remain intact, with Groulx staying behind the bench for Syracuse.