Andre Benoit, whom was sent back to the Rangers by the Toronto Maple Leafs camp, refused to pout about what could be interpreted as a demotion, instead the Rangers' 4th year player decided to try to prove any nay-sayers from the Leafs camp which may have still been around Kitchener still second thoughts about cutting the invitee so quickly. Andre Benoit was a very high Rangers' pick for the second consecutive season from the Ottawa area, during the preview draft the Rangers selected: Derek Roy early in the second round. During this draft they would take Andre Benoit, a defender from Penetang Jr. Benoit was part of a very strong draft which saw the likes of: Paille, Henrich, Nash and Jarrett go before the Rangers were able to step up to the table, and immediately after Andre's selection (8th overall), Eric Staal was taken. Though Benoit had played Jr. C as a defender, then GM: Jamie McDonald had every intention of using the smallish player as a forward specifically at center.
Benoit was somewhat of a double threat for the Rangers, he'd play a regular shift at center or on the wing, and during the powerplay he'd find himself on the point giving the Rangers an offensive strength on the blueline who also wasn't a defensive liability at the same time. Early during Peter DeBoer's tenure with the Rangers, Peter decided to move Andre Benoit back to his original position. The Rangers weren't having any luck shoring up their blueline during their first competitive seasons in years, and at the same time, the center position seemed to have a complete log-jam. Derek Roy, Ryan Ramsay, and a budding: Michael Richards all pushing for ice time under the first year Rangers' coach and GM. During the year Andre, had to overcome adversity on the ice, relearning his position on the backend of the ice, and he also had some struggles off of the ice, something that he used character to overcome.
During the Rangers' championship season, Andre completely perfected his wrist shot, he was one of 7 Rangers to have scored 20 or more goals during the entire season, the only member of the Rangers' defense to do so. He also paced the entire league in offensive production from the blueline. While the Rangers were missing players at world juniors, Benoit demonstrated that his versatility could be used in the other direction, as Andre once again filled a spot as a Ranger forward, and with much success.
In the Rangers' triumphant return home, a night
of banner raising, and celebration. Andre got back to work on the
Whalers, a team that he helped sink with a wrister that proved too difficult
for netminder: Paul Drew to handle cleanly. Just one second later after
this wrister shot, Gregory Campbell banked the puck into the top corner,
giving the Rangers a critical 3-1 lead in a heated game 7 tilt in Kitchener.
On this memorable night Andre Benoit was able to re-write several records
both team and league with his 4 goal and 4 assist performance. His
8 points in one game tied the OHL high for a defender set two times by
former junior standout: Bryan Fogarty. His 8 points tied the Rangers
club high of 8 set by Wayne Presley in 1984 and then equalled two seasons
later by Mike Wolak. Andre Benoit only fell one goal short of the
team's record for powerplay goals in a game, goals in a game, and the club
record which also doubles for the league record for goals by a defender
in a game: owned by former Ranger: Allan MacInnis.
Excellent Game night Photography by: Stephen Gardiner.