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AHL announces winner of Ken McKenzie Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has named Grand Rapids Griffins senior director of public relations Randy Cleves the winner of the league’s Ken McKenzie Award for the 2006-07 season.

Recognizing the important role played by team management in building a successful franchise, the award is presented annually to an AHL team executive who most successfully promotes his or her own club.

Cleves has overseen the Griffins’ communications and media relations efforts since joining the organization in 1999. He continues to creatively, professionally and effectively promote the team and the American Hockey League, earning the Griffins a major-league reputation in Grand Rapids.

Cleves recently oversaw the redesign and relaunch of griffinshockey.com, which was among the most frequently viewed team Web sites in the AHL in 2006-07, and also recruited local TV personalities to serve as contributing writers. In addition to his public relations responsibilities, Cleves has contributed to the Griffins’ exemplary community relations efforts. He was the driving force behind the award-winning “Put A Lid On It” helmet safety initiative for the area’s Safe Kids program, which has helped purchase nearly 2,000 bicycle helmets for underprivileged children in West Michigan. Cleves was recently named to the Board of Directors for the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation and is also the communications chair for the Mentor West Michigan Sports Awards.

The AHL’s Ken McKenzie Award, first presented in 1978, honors Ken McKenzie, the founder and long-time publisher of The Hockey News and a 1997 media honoree by the Hockey Hall of Fame as the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award winner. Mr. McKenzie, the NHL’s first publicity director and creator of its first media guide, passed away in 2003.

Previous winners of the AHL’s Ken McKenzie Award include Mike Emrick (1978), Roy Mlakar (1979), Bruce Landon (1980), Rick Peckham (1982), Dave Strader (1984), Dale Arnold (1985), John Forslund (1989), Glenn Stanford (1997), Rich Hixon (2000), Jim Sarosy (2002), Brian Lewis (2005) and Mike Wojciechowski (2006).