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AHL names winners of excellence awards

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league has named the 2009-10 recipients of several awards for excellence and service to the league, as well as the winners of its annual Team Business Services awards, recognizing outstanding achievements in a variety of categories including ticket sales, community service and fan experience.

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.

Howard Dolgon, owner, president and chief executive officer of the Syracuse Crunch, has been named the winner of the James C. Hendy Memorial Award as the outstanding executive in the American Hockey League for 2009-10. Dolgon’s passion and creativity were the driving forces behind the record-setting Mirabito Outdoor Classic, the first outdoor game in AHL history which was hosted by the Crunch in February. His work with the state and county governments as well as with corporate partners helped ensure the event’s success and led to a great deal of exposure for the team and the American Hockey League. Since 1994, Dolgon’s leadership has kept the Crunch an integral member of the Syracuse community and has provided tremendous stability with the longest current tenure of any independently-owned franchise in the AHL.

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.

Binghamton Senators part-owner and executive vice president of operations Tom Mitchell has been honored with the Thomas Ebright Award in recognition of career contributions to the AHL. Mitchell has become synonymous with AHL hockey in Binghamton as the general managing partner of the Binghamton Whalers (1985-90), Rangers (1990-97) and Senators (2002- ), overseeing the business operations of one of the league’s proudest historical and traditional markets. Mitchell, who was also executive VP of operations for the Hartford Wolf Pack from 1997-99, has served on several committees during more than two decades as a member of the AHL Board of Governors including the AHL Hall of Fame Committee, which he has chaired since its creation in 2005.

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

An AHL linesman since 1978, David Butova has been named the recipient of the Michael Condon Memorial Award for outstanding contributions by an on-ice official. Butova’s dedication and professionalism are well respected by his colleagues on the ice as he helps contribute to the development and advancement of many of today’s top AHL and NHL officials. Butova has officiated four Calder Cup Finals and one AHL All-Star Game.

The Michael Condon Memorial Award was created in 2002 following the sudden passing of veteran AHL linesman Mike Condon.

The Chicago Wolves and P.K. Subban of the Hamilton Bulldogs were named the 2009-10 winners of the President’s Awards, which 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.

The Wolves ranked third in the AHL in regular-season attendance with an average of 7,963 fans per game, including 11 crowds of more than 10,000 each. The Wolves continued to be a forerunner in unique theme nights, promotions and game-night experience and remain one of the league’s model organizations in terms of community relations.

In his first professional season, Subban was named a First Team AHL All-Star and earned a spot on the AHL All-Rookie Team after recording 18 goals, 35 assists and a plus-46 rating in 77 games for Hamilton. Subban, who represented the Bulldogs at the 2010 AHL All-Star Classic, also made an instant impact with the parent Montreal Canadiens, registering eight points in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games during the Canadiens’ improbable run to the Eastern Conference finals.

As part of its Team Business Services program, the AHL honored one club from each conference for top revenue growth in four areas during this past season: season-ticket sales, group-ticket sales, overall ticket sales and corporate sales. The season-ticket sales winners were the Manitoba Moose (Western) and the Hershey Bears (Eastern). Winners for group-ticket sales were the Chicago Wolves (Western) and the Hartford Wolf Pack (Eastern). The Chicago Wolves (Western) and the Hershey Bears (Eastern) earned the awards for overall ticket sales growth, and the Chicago Wolves (Western) and Syracuse Crunch (Eastern) were recognized for their corporate sales growth.

Additionally, teams from each conference were selected for excellence in the areas of community service and fan experience. The Lake Erie Monsters (Western) and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Eastern) earned the nods for their exceptional community service efforts, while the Grand Rapids Griffins (Western) and Manchester Monarchs (Eastern) were rewarded for their outstanding fan experience at home games.

The AHL also recognized several teams and individuals for their efforts during the 2009-10 season at the league’s Marketing Meeting in Chicago last month, including the Chicago Wolves as the sponsorship sales department of the year, the Lake Erie Monsters as the ticket sales department of the year, and the Syracuse Crunch for the most unique promotion or theme night, the Mirabito Outdoor Classic.

In operation since 1936 and celebrating its 75th anniversary season beginning this fall, 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. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the ninth year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2009-10.