London Knights’ Dale Hunter has once again been overlooked for the head coach position with Canada’s under-20 team at the world juniors.
And yet again, it makes no statistical or performance sense to keep the job away from him.
This time, the posting went to Gatineau Olympiques’ head coach Benoit Groulx, announced at a Montreal press conference Thursday. The challenge is to end Canada’s five-year gold medal drought.
This year’s 11-day world juniors will be in Montreal and Toronto, opening Dec. 26 in Montreal and ending with the gold-medal game in Toronto.
Groulx, 46, was an assistant coach last Christmas when the Brent Sutter-led juniors finished fourth and out of the medals in Malmo, Sweden.
He was handed the job once before, in 2009, only to relinquish the duties when he was hired as the head coach of the AHL’s Rochester Americans.
Groulx lasted two seasons in Rochester and had an under-500 record when he left, returning to Gatineau.
With Gatineau, Groulx has failed to make it to the Memorial Cup tournament in four seasons. Before going to Rochester, he reached the Cup tournament with Hull and Gatineau but didn’t win an championships.
Hunter, meanwhile, won the under-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament last July in Europe, showing that he could play nice with Hockey Canada. He also interviewed for the job given to Groulx on Thursday.
Hunter left the Knights during the 2011-12 season to be head coach with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. He had a 30-23-7 record and came within one win of reaching the conference finals, before choosing to return to junior hockey.
Hunter and his brother Mark have taken the Knights to the Cup the last three seasons, including this season as host team. Dale Hunter won the 2005 Cup in London.
Dale Hunter’s consistent record of success includes the fastest to reach 500 victories in OHL history, 100 points or more in eight of the past 11 seasons and a 70-plus per cent winning percentage.
Hunter comes out ahead in any comparisons, with winning the most important. And one more time, he doesn’t get the job.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is just silly.