SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today announced the four people selected for induction into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame as the Class of 2011.
Honored by the AHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee as the sixth group of enshrinees are Mitch Lamoureux, Harry Pidhirny, Maurice Podoloff and Larry Wilson.
“The AHL Board of Governors is proud to support the Selection Committee’s recommendation to enshrine these four gentlemen into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame,” said David Andrews, AHL President and CEO. “We look forward to recognizing their outstanding contributions to the league as part of the celebration of our historic 75th season this year.”
The Class of 2011 will be honored as part of the festivities at the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross in Hershey, Pa. The American Hockey League Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony is scheduled for Monday, January 31.
Formed in 2006 to recognize, honor and celebrate individuals for their outstanding achievements and contributions in the American Hockey League, 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 and all 30 official team sites, and hosts more than 200 million page views each year.
In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 30 National Hockey League teams, as well as the NHL’s on-ice officials. By season’s end in 2009-10, more than 85 percent of all NHL players were American Hockey League graduates, including more than 200 former first- and second-round draft picks and more than 300 players who appeared in both leagues last season alone.
As dynamic as he was scrappy, Mitch Lamoureux feasted on American Hockey League goaltenders during a 17-year professional career that saw him become one of the most prolific AHL scorers of his era.
The Ottawa native was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the eighth round of the 1981 NHL draft and joined the Pens’ new AHL affiliate in Baltimore in 1982-83. He promptly scored 57 goals – the most in the 47-year history of the league at that point – and recorded 107 points, at the time a rookie record. Lamoureux earned the Dudley “Red” Garrett Award as the outstanding rookie in the AHL.
Lamoureux split the next three seasons between Baltimore and Pittsburgh before joining the Philadelphia Flyers organization in 1986. In 1987-88, Lamoureux led the Hershey Bears in scoring in both the regular season and the playoffs, helping the franchise to its first 50-win season, a perfect 12-0 postseason mark and the Calder Cup championship.
After a brief stint with the Maine Mariners and two seasons in Europe, Lamoureux returned to Hershey in 1993 and led the Bears with 45 goals, 60 assists and 105 points in 80 games. He also set an AHL record with 27 power-play goals on the year. In 1995-96, Lamoureux joined the Providence Bruins and was named one of the playing captains for that year’s AHL All-Star Classic, held in Hershey. He went back to the Bears for a third and final stint in 1997-98, and was named the recipient of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey in 1998-99.
Lamoureux reached the 30-goal plateau six times in his AHL career and sits in seventh place all-time in goals (364) and ninth in points (816) over 802 games. Listed at 5-foot-6, Lamoureux was also more than capable of taking care of himself, as evidenced by his six AHL seasons of more than 100 penalty minutes.
Lamoureux remained a resident of the Hershey area after hanging up his skates in 1999. The number 16 worn by both Lamoureux and fellow AHL Hall of Famer Willie Marshall has been retired by the Hershey Bears.
A durable and reliable centerman whose numbers were as good as any player of his time, Harry Pidhirny played 1,071 games over 17 seasons in the American Hockey League.
The Toronto native began his pro career with the AHL’s Philadelphia Rockets in 1948-49, recording 39 points in 68 games. Pidhirny was acquired by owner Eddie Shore before the following season and played two years for the Springfield Indians, beginning a string of 12 consecutive 20-goal campaigns in 1949-50.
The Indians franchise moved to Syracuse for three years from 1951-54, and it was there that Pidhirny broke through as one of the league’s most offensively gifted players, leading the Syracuse Warriors in goal scoring each season. On Nov. 21, 1953, in a 9-1 win over the Providence Reds, Pidhirny tied an AHL record by scoring six goals in one game.
His steady and consistent play continued when the team returned to Springfield, and he would go on to play in five AHL All-Star Games during the 1950’s. He also earned two games with the Boston Bruins in 1957-58 – what would be his only taste of the NHL in his career.
Pidhirny led the league with 60 assists and posted a career-best 81 points in 1958-59, earning recognition as a Second Team AHL All-Star, and he was an important piece to the Indians’ Calder Cup puzzle, winning championships in 1960 and 1961. He finished his AHL playing career in Providence and Baltimore, then returned to Springfield to briefly coach the Indians in 1966.
Pidhirny, who five times in his career played in every one of his team’s games in a season, ranks third in AHL history in games played, sixth in goals (376) and seventh in points (829). He was a member of the first class of inductees into the Springfield Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.
One of the founding fathers of the American Hockey League, Maurice Podoloff was known as a pioneer whose vision and dedication helped build the foundation for a league that continues to thrive 75 years later.
Born in the town of Elizabethgrad, Ukraine, in 1890, Podoloff moved to the United States at the age of six and settled with his family in New Haven, Conn., where he later graduated from Yale University and Yale Law School.
Together with his father Abraham and his brothers Nathan and Jacob, Podoloff built the New Haven Arena in 1926 and created the New Haven Eagles hockey team as a charter member of the Canadian-American Hockey League. Maurice served on the league’s board of governors, and later became secretary-treasurer of the league in 1935.
The Can-Am League and the International Hockey League joined forces in 1936 to create what was known as the International-American Hockey League; Podoloff continued to oversee the Can-Am teams that made up the combined league’s Eastern Division. In 1938, the consolidation between the CAHL and the IHL became official and Podoloff was formally elected the IAHL’s first president. The “International” was dropped from the league’s name in 1940, becoming the American Hockey League as it remains to this day.
Podoloff brought stability to the AHL during the difficult war years and oversaw the addition of teams in future major-league cities like Washington, Buffalo, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. He also had a hand in modernizing the league through rules modifications and innovations, and organized the first AHL all-star game in 1942 as a fundraiser for American and Canadian Red Cross efforts during World War II.
Podoloff served as president of the AHL until 1952, including several years in which he concurrently ran the National Basketball Association as its first president beginning in 1946. He was enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1974, and the Maurice Podoloff Trophy is awarded each year to the NBA’s most valuable player.
Podoloff passed away in 1985 at the age of 95.
Larry Wilson enjoyed a long and distinguished career in the American Hockey League, spanning 15 seasons as a player and six more as a head coach.
A native of Kincardine, Ont., Wilson spent much of the early part of his playing career in the NHL with Detroit and Chicago, winning a Stanley Cup with the Red Wings in 1950. He also skated for two seasons with the AHL’s Indianapolis Capitals, and in 1955, he began a 13-year stay with the Buffalo Bisons that would see Wilson become that franchise’s all-time leader in every offensive category.
In his first season with Buffalo, Wilson was named a Second Team AHL All-Star after scoring 39 goals and putting up 78 points in 62 games. He helped the Bisons to the Calder Cup Finals in 1959 and picked up another Second Team All-Star nod in 1959-60 when he led Buffalo in team scoring with 33 goals and 78 points.
Another trip to the Finals ended in a loss to Springfield in 1962, but Wilson and the Bisons finally brought the Calder Cup back to Buffalo in 1963 after finishing with the best record in the league and knocking off Hershey in a tense seven-game series for the title.
Although his offensive numbers began to decline, Wilson remained an integral member of the Bisons organization, and he returned to the top of the team scoring page in 1966-67 when he notched 28 goals and 37 assists in 65 games.
Wilson played his last game in the AHL in 1968, and at that time his 790 career points were good for sixth all-time. Today, he ranks 12th in career scoring, ninth in assists (492) and 13th in games played (899). He finished among the AHL’s top 10 in scoring on five occasions during his career.
Following his playing career, Wilson began coaching and in his first season behind the bench led the Providence Reds to the Calder Cup Finals, where they lost to a Springfield Kings team coached by his brother Johnny. During his tenure with Providence (1970-72) and the Richmond Robins (1972-76), Wilson coached several future AHL and NHL bench bosses including Bill Barber, Paul Holmgren, Terry Murray and fellow AHL Hall of Famer John Paddock.
Wilson was named the first head coach of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings in 1979, but never got to see the ice in Glens Falls; at the age of 48, he suffered a fatal heart attack just prior to training camp. Larry Wilson’s legacy lives on through his son, Ron, a longtime NHL head coach in Anaheim, Washington, San Jose and, since 2008, Toronto.