The path to the highest levels of professional hockey are often filled with circuitous routes. For newly acquired Wolves defenseman Andre Benoit, the journey involved a heavily stamped passport. By the time he turned 28, Benoit (pronounced “behn-WAH”) had already skated for pro teams in five countries. The St. Albert, Ontario, native earned his first paycheck overseas, playing in Finland before moving on to Sweden and eventually Russia in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Along the way, Benoit also captured Calder Cup championships on Canadian and U.S. soil as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2007 and the Binghamton Senators in 2011.
“Every coach you play for and every organization has different philosophies and it’s no different over there (in Europe),” says Benoit. “You learn things and bring it into your own game.”
Benoit’s diverse hockey resume eventually landed him in the National Hockey League, where he made his debut with the Ottawa Senators in February 2011. Since that time, Benoit has skated for the Colorado Avalanche and Buffalo Sabres, appearing in 179 NHL games total. With his NHL experience, Benoit anchors a Wolves defensive corps that figures to be a team strength this season. Paired with veteran Peter Harrold in the season opener, Benoit helped limit Milwaukee to one goal while chipping in offensively with three assists.
“I thought Benoit was our best defenseman overall last game. Really good with the puck,” said Wolves head coach John Anderson. “You can just see that there is a confidence he gives you there. And (he and Harrold) don’t panic. They can read plays. Even when the play you set up isn’t there, they’ll find something else. Those guys make us coaches look better than we are.”
Benoit was among the last batch of players loaned from St. Louis at the end of Wolves training camp. His transition to Chicago will be made complete when his wife, Kelly, and two young daughters, Emma and Hailey, arrive in town.
“They’re looking forward to coming over. It’s a great area and a great setup family-wise. I heard coming in that the Wolves were a first-class organization and it’s proven to be true. We get all the support we need. The Wolves make it easy to just focus on hockey.”