The news broke on Monday that Benoit Groulx had resigned as Rochester Americans head coach and returned to his prior position, coach of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. From the QMJHL press release, “Under his reign, the Olympics won three championships in six seasons. Groulx led the team to three appearances at the MasterCard Memorial Cup where the Olympics reached the final on two occasions in 2003 and 2004.”
There’s no hiding the fact that Groulx was not very liked as the coach of the Amerks so this news was a perfect way to get the summer started. The players disliked playing for him, the teams management did not understand him at times, everyone questioned his decisions during games and all of that led to the fans chanting for him to leave at the last game of the year.
A bigger issue at hand could be that the Amerks management found out about this through the media, not from the Florida Panthers directly. Groulx’s resignation would have been approved by the Panthers so he could officially take on the new job, but no phone call was made to anyone with the Amerks. Interesting. Just like the Panthers had to find out through the media that the Amerks were not happy. There seems to be an issue with communication going on that really needs to be addressed.
Mike Duco told Kevin O at Hockey O-Zone, “This year, losing in the first round (in seven games to the Abbotsford Heat), with the team we had, people are looking for someone to blame. Personally I don’t think it was him. You can only do so much as a coach and then the players have to perform on the ice.”
It was not all Groulx, but he had a hand in it. He made the decision to start Alexander Salak over Tyler Plante. He made the decision to scratch Graham Mink in game 7. Two decisions that had everyone off of their game.
Those outside of Rochester question what the problem was with Groulx as coach. Panthers fans think that the Amerks fans and management ran the guy out of town and the Panthers were going to give in to everyone. The problem was the disconnect between him and the players and also the way he managed games. Those things also played into the strained relations between Groulx and the Amerks hockey department.
So, other than the decisions in the playoffs what seemed to be the problems? The way he changed up the lines often. The lack of communication between him and players about who was not playing and why. The lack of calling a time out to try and stop the momentum of the other team or calm down the Amerks as they tried to get back into a game. The fact that he was rarely on the ice for a game day skate and would often leave the building before the players were off the ice. The fact that players would watch what they would say so that they wouldn’t be punished in some way.
It’s a good day for everyone. Groulx goes back to a coaching job he has been great at and the Rochester Americans get to start looking at building another championship team.
The next coach needs to be someone with experience coaching in the American Hockey League, someone who has played at this level and understands this level of play, and someone who has won a championship would also be a great thing.
The Panthers new GM, Dale Tallon will be available next week for comments on everything that has been going on. Since being hired he has had a busy schedule on the road in Germany for the World Championships, he has signed Jacob Markstrom, has been at the NHL Combine in Toronto and is at the GM meetings all this week.