Benoît Groulx was recently named head coach of Canada's National Junior Team for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. Granted the same task in 2009, Groulx had to step aside after accepting the head coaching position with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League. Now, just a few months after his appearance behind the Canadian bench at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship as an assistant coach, Groulx – currently head coach of the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – takes command of the team for the 2015 event in Montreal and Toronto.
HockeyCanada.ca spoke with Groulx moments after he was introduced as the new head coach.
- What are your first impressions following your appointment?
I’m very happy about this decision. Since this is the second time I’ve been appointed as head coach, it shows the confidence that Hockey Canada had in me then and still does today. I’m very excited to have been chosen and received such support.
- After not being able to take the reins of Canada’s National Junior Team in 2009, what does this opportunity mean to you now?
This is fantastic. I’m really flattered by the faith the people of Hockey Canada have in me. It’s important to me that they didn’t forget me. Even if at that time I left to go to the AHL, they’ve offered me now an amazing opportunity for a second start.
- Do you feel any additional pressure because the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship is being held in Canada?
Pressure will be a good thing for us. It will force everyone to be well prepared and to take care of the details. What will be important is to be very careful about the process. Everyone knows about the issues and the meaning of an IIHF World Junior Championship held in Canada; the population is expecting us to win gold. But for us, the important issue is we have good daily results with the players we choose.
- Now that you’re part of Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence, what will be the next development steps with Canada’s National Junior Team?
Starting from today, my focus will be exclusively aimed toward the team. Nothing else will worry me. I haven’t set aside plans concerning my team in Gatineau, but on that behalf, everything is already organized for next season. I’ll work hard with the others coaches, Scott (Walker) and Dave (Lowry), and the team policy committee to prepare for the upcoming summer camp. After that, once the machine is on its way, it will follow its course.
- What did you learn during the 2014 tournament that you will use in the 2015 event?
My experience tells me that we need players that are very quick, very skilled and physically strong. That’s the type of player we’re looking for. We want world-class players, guys that can walk out of their comfort zone and take the necessary role that leads to the success of the team. I think this is a key factor. Being a Canadian Hockey League player who can score 100 points a season is one thing, but it’s not enough in a tournament like this one. What we’re looking for are players with 100 points who are able to raise their level of play up another degree, and who can accept their new roles and become great players on the international scene.
- With a résumé as impressive as yours, do you believe that this new position represents the most outstanding accomplishment of your career?
Beyond all doubt, this is the outstanding accomplishment of my career. You can’t imagine a stage more important than this one; being named head coach of Canada’s National Junior Team, that’s fantastic. Fans’ eyes worldwide will be focused on us, so this opportunity I’ve been given is quite unbelievable.
- What are your expectations for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship?
I’m expecting to live an unbelievable year with this championship. One year of important preparation; one year during which we want to build a team that will be representative of and that will measure to the best junior teams of Canada. I know what awaits me: a lot of work and a lot of exchanging and sharing of my know-how with my colleagues from Team Canada.