AHL names 2010-11 excellence award winners

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league has named the 2010-11 recipients of several awards for excellence and service to the league.

The announcements came Wednesday evening at a gala reception during the league’s annual meeting of the Board of Governors at Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Worcester Sharks president Michael A. Mudd has been named the winner of the James C. Hendy Memorial Award as the outstanding executive in the American Hockey League for 2010-11. A member of the San Jose organization for the last 10 years, Mudd oversaw significant growth in both ticket sales and corporate sales during his first season as team president in 2010-11, including a league-leading 38 percent increase in group-ticket revenue. Mudd also ensured the Sharks’ future in Worcester by renegotiating the team’s arena lease at the DCU Center, and he continued to grow the club’s presence and positive impact on the Worcester community. Mudd has successfully taken a leadership role in all key areas of AHL hockey and business operations for the Sharks and serves as an alternate governor on the league’s Board.

The James C. Hendy Award is named for the late Jim Hendy, a Hockey Hall of Famer and long-time statistician and historian for the AHL who won four Calder Cups as general manager of the original Cleveland Barons.

True North Sports & Entertainment chairman Mark Chipman was honored with the Thomas Ebright Award in recognition of career contributions to the AHL. Chipman’s impact on the American Hockey League began in 2001 when he played an influential role in the complex endeavor of bringing six cities from the former International Hockey League into the AHL, including his own Manitoba Moose. A highly respected member of the AHL’s Board of Governors for the past decade, Chipman was the driving force behind construction of the state-of-the-art MTS Centre in downtown Winnipeg, and under his direction and with his financial and emotional commitment to the team and the city of Winnipeg, the Moose were consistently among the AHL’s leaders in attendance and revenue over their 10 seasons in the league.

The Thomas Ebright Award honors Tom Ebright, the former owner and governor of the Baltimore Skipjacks and Portland Pirates who passed away in 1997.

The San Antonio Rampage and Bryan Helmer of the Oklahoma City Barons were named the 2010-11 winners of the President’s Awards.

The Rampage averaged 6,411 fans per home game during this past regular season, an increase of nearly 19 percent over the 2009-10 season. San Antonio continued to be one of the league’s model organizations in terms of group ticket sales practices and theme nights, drawing crowds of more than 10,000 for the team’s annual Military Appreciation Night and for its first-ever Pink in the Rink Night to support breast cancer research.

With several milestones within his grasp, Helmer began the 2010-11 season on the sidelines until earning a tryout with Oklahoma City. On Jan. 13, Helmer notched his 520th career point to become the AHL’s highest-scoring defenseman of all time, and on Feb. 18, he appeared in his 1,000th career AHL game, becoming just the seventh player in league history to reach that mark. A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and a three-time Calder Cup champion, Helmer is signed on with the Barons to play his 19th professional season in 2011-12.

The President’s Awards are given to an AHL organization for excellence in all areas off the ice, and to an AHL player in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments in the past year.

Mike Cosentino, director of business operations for the Toronto Marlies, has been named the winner of the league’s Ken McKenzie Award for the 2010-11 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. Under Cosentino’s guidance, the Marlies enjoyed one of their most successful seasons in ticket and corporate sales, marketing and public relations in 2010-11, including significant growth in sponsorship revenue, group sales, web traffic and social media platforms. As the club’s top business executive, Cosentino was instrumental in executing the Marlies’ new marketing campaign, which focused on the role of player development in the AHL and which correlated to increases in ticket sales and media coverage.

The Ken McKenzie Award honors Ken McKenzie, the founder and long-time publisher of The Hockey News and the NHL’s first publicity director, as well as a 1997 honoree by the Hockey Hall of Fame as the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award winner.

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 87 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 10th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2010-11.