Danny Groulx Returns to Sharks

Danny Groulx Returns to the Sharks
By: Andrew Hirsh

After a two-year hiatus in the Kontinental Hockey League, former Worcester Shark defenseman Danny Groulx has returned to the organization.

Groulx, 31, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Sharks this summer, marking his return to North American hockey. A native of Quebec, Groulx tallied 14 goals and 52 assists for 66 points in his one campaign with Worcester—the highest number of points in a single season in franchise history.

Those numbers, coupled with strong defensive play, earned him the Eddie Shore Award in 2010, given to the AHL’s best D-man of the year. Additionally, Groulx was named to the AHL First All Star Team that season as he led the Sharks to the best record they’ve ever had.

“I’m really excited to be back in the Sharks organization,” he said. “A couple of years ago we had a good season together. I’m ready to do it again.”

Following his short stint in Worcester, Groulx took his talents across the pond to the KHL, where he played for three teams in two seasons. His first year in the KHL went far better than the second, as his point total dropped from 25 to 2 from 2010-11 to 2011-12. Still, he believes it was a positive experience in his career despite the challenges it presented.

“It was interesting,” Groulx said of his time abroad. “I’ve always wondered what hockey was out there. It was hard at times, for sure. I was the only English-speaking guy on the team for a bit, and that was difficult.”

“But hockey-wise it was a great experience. The hockey level is really up there. There’s some great players over there.”

Among the differences that come with the foreign style of play, the biggest change for Groulx on the ice was adjusting to the size of the rink, which is significantly bigger in the KHL than in North America.

“It was fun to play on the big ice,” he said “The way most of the teams play, there’s more puck possession because of the big ice; sometimes it feels like a soccer game. It’s much wider so you have more time with the puck, and that leads to more puck control. But I think as far as the game goes, it’s more exciting in North America. There are more hits, checks and pucks to the net.”

In preparation for next season, Groulx has been training in his native province of Quebec, along with a few other talented hockey players—P.A. Parenteau, Jason Pominville, Francis Boullion, Mathieu Darche, to name a few.

“I’ve been working out quite a bit in the Montreal region and started skating a few weeks ago,” he said on Wednesday. “And I’ll be on the ice 3-4 times a week until camp. The training’s been great so far. We’ll spend about 30-40 minutes practicing then scrimmage each other.”

Outside of hockey, a lot has changed in Groulx’s life since he last skated for the Sharks. Now a family man, he is “relieved” to return to playing in North America, where he can spend time with those who matter most to him.

“When we came to Worcester, my wife was pregnant. We now have two years old twins, a boy and a girl,” he said. “It’s great to be back in Worcester. It definitely helps to be able to stay on the same continent as your family. Being away is very hard, and I’m happy to be back close to everyone.”

With training camp on his mind, Groulx remains focused on impressing the San Jose brass in hopes of cracking an NHL roster for the first time in his career.

“If there’s a camp in San Jose, I’ll just try to play my game” he said. “I’m just excited to play back with the Sharks again and hopefully have a good year again and win some hockey games. I just want to leave a good impression in San Jose and focus on winning.”

While Groulx will have his sights set on San Jose when camp commences, he would undoubtedly be a huge addition to the Worcetser roster if assigned to the AHL. Strong at both ends of the ice, Groulx’s presence could go a long ways towards returning Worcester to playoff contention and rekindle the success they discovered during his last year with the team.

Groulx was able to lead the Sharks to an Atlantic Division title that season; whether or not he can do the same in 2012-13 remains to be seen. Sharks fans certainly hope that’s the case.

Stay tuned to SharksAHL.com all offseason long for the latest Sharks news.

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