AHL stars still shining: Pavol Demitra

A late-round draft pick by the Ottawa Senators in 1993, Pavol Demitra came to North America from his native Slovakia and joined the Sens’ American Hockey League affiliate in Charlottetown, P.E.I., at the age of 18.

Demitra tallied 41 points in 41 AHL games in 1993-94 and finished sixth on the team in scoring. He returned to P.E.I. the following year and helped the Senators to a division title, recording 74 points in 61 contests.

Demitra had his breakout season in 1995-96, collecting 81 points in 48 games. His offensive prowess earned him a permanent NHL recall to Ottawa, but not before he represented the Senators at the 1996 AHL All-Star Classic in Hershey.

Now 32, Demitra has gone on to a standout career in the National Hockey League. He has put together eight 20-goal seasons with St. Louis and Los Angeles, played in three NHL All-Star Games, represented Slovakia in two Olympics, and won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship in 1999-2000.

Demitra is currently playing for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, who acquired him from the Kings in June in exchange for 2006 AHL rookie of the year Patrick O’Sullivan. He has eight goals and 13 assists for 21 points in 27 games for the Wild.

Of the 394 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Daniel Briere, Jonathan Cheechoo, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Dwayne Roloson, Marc Savard, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal, Steve Sullivan and Kyle Wellwood.

The 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic will take place at Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, home of the AHL’s Marlies. The event features the 2007 CCM AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 28 (7:00 ET) and the 2007 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 29 (7:00 ET), and will be televised live on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada and on a network of regional broadcast partners in the United States.

For ticket and event information, visit http://www.torontomarlies.com/news/07allstargame.asp