SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today announced the three people selected for induction into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame as the Class of 2008.
Honored by the AHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee as the third group of enshrinees are Noel Price, Tim Tookey and the late Steve Kraftcheck.
“The AHL Board of Governors has unanimously and enthusiastically endorsed the selection committee’s recommendation to induct these three American Hockey League legends into our Hall of Fame,” said David Andrews, AHL President and CEO. “All three gentlemen helped define our league’s great history through their standards of excellence during their AHL careers, and we are privileged to have them join the very select group of honored members of the AHL Hall of Fame.”
The Class of 2008 will be honored as part of the festivities at the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic in Binghamton, N.Y. The induction ceremony will take place as part of the AHL All-Star Classic Luncheon on Monday, January 28.
In a unique effort to make the rich tradition of the AHL available to the widest possible audience, the AHL Hall of Fame is housed on-line at www.ahlhalloffame.com and is accessible to fans worldwide with the click of a mouse as part of the AHL Internet Network. The Network also includes theahl.com, caldercup.com and all 29 official team sites, and hosts more than 200 million page views each year.
Now in its 72nd season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 80 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the sixth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2006-07.
After a stint with the Indianapolis Capitals and two seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Kraftcheck was re-acquired by the Barons in 1953 as part of a deal that sent goaltender Johnny Bower to Broadway. Back in Cleveland, Kraftcheck quickly became a fan favorite. His hard-hitting, rough-and-tumble style was a perfect fit for the blue-collar Barons, and he helped the club capture a Calder Cup championship in 1954.
In 1957, Kraftcheck was voted a First Team AHL All-Star for the first time and capped the season by assisting on the Calder Cup-winning overtime goal as Cleveland took home the franchise’s eighth title.
Kraftcheck joined the Rochester Americans in 1958-59 and captured the inaugural Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman. A year later, he served as player/coach of the Amerks and led them to the Calder Cup Finals, highlighted by a historic comeback from 0-3 down to win their best-of-seven semifinal series against the Barons.
Kraftcheck finished his career with the Providence Reds, retiring in 1964 as the AHL’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 453 career points, a standard that stood for more than 40 years. He played in five AHL all-star games in the 1950’s and is one of three players in league history to have earned six consecutive nods to postseason all-star teams – four First Team and two Second Team selections.
A native of Tinturn, Ont., Kraftcheck passed away in 1997 at the age of 68.
During an American Hockey League career that saw him play for five teams over a 20-year span, Noel Price was a reliable presence on the blue line for four Calder Cup champions, as well as a veteran leader and teacher that saw him claim the AHL’s top honor for a defenseman a record three times.
Price, from Brockville, Ont., made his American Hockey League debut as a 21-year-old rookie with the Rochester Americans in 1956-57, picking up a goal and an assist in his first game. In his first full AHL season, Price led Rochester’s defensemen in scoring with 24 points and also finished second in the entire league with 153 penalty minutes. After seeing time with the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Rangers, Price spent two and a half seasons with the Springfield Indians and won back-to-back Calder Cup titles in 1960 and 1961 before being dealt to the Detroit Red Wings in 1962.
The durable defenseman missed just four games in his three seasons with the Baltimore Clippers from 1962-65, and he was named a Second Team AHL All-Star with the Quebec Aces in 1966. Expansion gave Price another chance to play in the NHL full-time, and he spent two years with the Pittsburgh Penguins before being picked up by the Los Angeles Kings.
Price had his best offensive season with Springfield in 1969-70, setting personal highs with 10 goals, 44 assists and 54 points while helping the Kings to the Calder Cup Finals. At age 34, Price was named a First Team AHL All-Star and won the Eddie Shore Award as the league’s outstanding defenseman.
After spending another full season back in the NHL with Los Angeles, Price began the 1971-72 campaign in Springfield before being acquired by the Montreal Canadiens. He spent the rest of the season with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, where he helped mentor a 20-year-old rookie named Larry Robinson. Price would again earn the Eddie Shore Award as the Vees won the Calder Cup.
Price returned to the NHL with the expansion Atlanta Flames in 1972-73 and was instrumental in providing leadership to the fledgling franchise. He made one final run in the AHL with Nova Scotia in 1975-76 and won his third Eddie Shore Award and fourth Calder Cup championship. At age 40, Price was barely two months younger than Voyageurs head coach Al MacNeil, his teammate in Rochester two decades earlier.
Price finished with 378 points in 751 games for his AHL career.
TIMOTHY RAYMOND (TIM) TOOKEY
Drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1979, Tim Tookey was a gifted scorer and one of the top point producers in the history of the American Hockey League.
Tookey suited up for parts of seven seasons in the NHL but made his mark in the AHL, primarily with the storied Hershey Bears. He quickly earned a reputation as a dangerous offensive threat, racking up 58 points and 129 penalty minutes in just 47 games as a rookie in 1980-81. He moved on to the Fredericton Express and Baltimore Skipjacks before returning to Hershey, where he would have back-to-back breakthrough campaigns.
In 1985-86, Tookey led the AHL with 62 assists and finished tied for third with 97 points, then scored a league-high 11 goals during the postseason. The Bears lost to Adirondack in a six-game Finals series, but Tookey’s effort still earned him the Jack Butterfield Trophy as the most valuable player of the 1986 Calder Cup Playoffs. He remains the only player to capture the award without playing on the Cup- winning team.
Tookey came back with a monster year in 1986-87, setting career benchmarks with 51 goals, 73 assists and 124 points, one point shy of the AHL record at the time. He was named a First Team AHL All-Star and captured the Les Cunningham Award as the league’s MVP. He also participated in 10 playoff games for the Philadelphia Flyers that spring, helping them reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
After a stint in New Haven, Tookey returned for his third tour of duty in Hershey. He kept up his scoring pace through two injury-shortened campaigns, then erupted to put up nearly identical totals in 1991-92 (36-69-105) and 1992-93 (38-70-108) while playing in all 80 games each season. Tookey became just the third player in league history with three 100-point seasons to his credit, and in 1993 was presented with the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
Tookey notched 32 goals and 89 points in 66 games for Hershey in 1993-94, then finished his career as a player/assistant coach with the Providence Bruins, contributing 44 points in 50 contests. When the AHL revived its All-Star Game in 1995 after a 35-year absence, Tookey was selected as one of the team captains for the contest, which was played in Providence.
The Edmonton native retired after the 1995 playoffs as the fourth-leading scorer in AHL history with 974 points, also ranking fourth in assists (621) and ninth in goals (353) over 824 games. And although he never won a Calder Cup, his AHL postseason numbers were exceptional as well, with 82 points in 78 playoff games.
With 693 points in just 529 games, Tookey ranks second all-time in scoring for the venerable Hershey Bears franchise, which retired his number 9 in 1997.