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Falcons sign Helmer

The Springfield Falcons, AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, announced on Thursday that they have signed veteran defenseman Bryan Helmer to an AHL standard player contract for the remainder of the 2012-13 season.

Helmer is third in the AHL’s 77-year history with 1,093 games played and is the league’s career leader among defensemen with 562 points and 433 assists.

Helmer has skated with eight AHL teams in his career and will make his second appearance with the Falcons, having participated in nine games with the club in 2003-04. A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Helmer has also played for the Albany River Rats (1993-98), the Worcester IceCats (1998-2000), the Manitoba Moose (2001-03), the Grand Rapids Griffins (2004-06), the San Antonio Rampage (2006-08), the Hershey Bears (2008-10) and the Oklahoma City Barons (2010-12).

The 40-year-old Helmer has also played in a record 158 Calder Cup Playoff games, and will become the third player in league history to participate in as many as 19 AHL seasons once he takes the ice with the Falcons this year. He is a three-time Calder Cup champion, winning with Albany in 1994-95 and Hershey in 2008-09 and 2009-10. Helmer served as the Bears’ captain during their most recent league-title seasons and has also held that role for Oklahoma City and San Antonio. Helmer was also selected as captain of the Canadian All-Star Team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic.

In addition to his distinguished AHL career, Helmer has skated in 146 NHL games with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington, collecting 26 points (8g, 18a). He has seen action in six Stanley Cup Playoff contests.

Helmer has been noted for his work off the ice during his career, most recently having been named Oklahoma City’s winner of the IOA/American Speciality AHL Man of the Year Award in 2011-12. He won the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award in 2010-11, an accolade given annually to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.