There are few that have achieved as much as Andre Benoit over their Ontario Hockey League careers. Despite the lack of love the NHL has given Andre, he still manages to be a major factor wherever he plays.
Benoit played in the Ontario Hockey League for five seasons from 2000-01 to 2004-05, all with the Kitchener Rangers. With the Rangers, he won a Robertson Cup and Memorial Cup in 2002-03. Twice he was the highest point-getting Ontario Hockey League defenseman, 2002-03 and 2004-05. Despite his 67 minutes in penalties, he was awarded the William Hanley Trophy as the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player in 2003-04. In his final season, he was honoured with the Leo Lalonde Trophy as the OHL’s overage player of the year.
During his second season, Benoit was selected to represent Canada at the IIHF World Under 18 Championships held in Slovakia. It was a bit of a disaster for Canada as they went 0-5 in the final round. USA won the gold and a young Alex Ovechkin was the tournament’s scoring leader.
Benoit’s Ontario Hockey League career totals were astounding for a defenseman. In 324 regular season games, Andre netted 99 goals and helped on 200 others for 299 total points. He added another 38 points in 45 playoff games. This, of course, made him an OHL all-star in 2004 and 2005.
Yet, Andre was never drafted by an NHL club. He was signed by the Montreal Canadiens organization as a free agent and has spent three seasons with the Canadiens AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. In his second season with the Bulldogs, Andre led all AHL defenseman in assists during the playoffs as Hamilton won the Calder Cup as AHL playoff champion. This past season, after returning from a two year stint in Europe, Andre once again led all playoff defensemen in assists but his strongly favoured Bulldogs went down in the conference finals to Texas.
In 2007-08, Andre played in Finland’s SM-Liiga with Tappara. He found himself in familiar territory, leading the league’s defensemen in total assists. Tappara finished third in the league that season. Andre was part of Team Canada at the annual Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland. The team, made up of Canadians playing in European leagues, won the Gold medal.
The following season, Benoit shifted over to Sweden and played for Södertälje of the Elitserien, Sweden’s highest league.
Andre has become property of the Ottawa Senators for the 2010-11 season and will most likely start with their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.
Andre is also featured in a previous post at OHL Alumni Central detailing the players from Kitchener’s 2002-03 Memorial Cup winning season that are still active in professional hockey today.