Aucoin named AHL MVP

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that center Keith Aucoin of the Hershey Bears has been named the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player for the 2009-10 season, as voted by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 29 cities.

One of the premier offensive players in the AHL over the last decade, Aucoin has established career highs with 35 goals and 102 points in 70 games played so far this season, and is in position to capture his first scoring title after four previous top-10 finishes. Aucoin also leads the league with 67 assists and 10 game-winning goals, and his plus-29 rating is tied for seventh among AHL forwards.

Aucoin, who last week earned his fourth career postseason All-Star Team berth with his second consecutive First Team selection, recorded an assist in 16 straight games from Dec. 27 to Jan. 31 – one shy of the all-time league record. He appeared in his fifth consecutive AHL All-Star Classic on Jan. 18-19 and was named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Month for January after amassing 35 points in just 14 games. Aucoin, who has not gone more than two games in a row without a point since November 2008, has 30 multiple-point games this year, and with his 625th career point on Mar. 27, he became the highest-scoring American-born player in AHL history.

A native of Waltham, Mass., Aucoin has recorded 194 goals and 437 assists (18th all-time) for 631 points (31st all-time) in 575 career AHL games entering the weekend. He also has one goal and four assists in nine NHL games with Washington this season, giving him 26 points (8g, 18a) in 74 career NHL contests.

Aucoin becomes the sixth Hershey player ever to win the Les Cunningham Award, joining George Sullivan (1954), Mike Nykoluk (1967), Tim Tookey (1987), Jean-Francois Labbe (1997) and Alexandre Giroux (2009). The award, which was first presented in 1948, honors the late Les Cunningham, a 2009 AHL Hall of Fame inductee who was a five-time league All-Star and three-time Calder Cup champion with the original Cleveland Barons. Other previous winners include Carl Liscombe (1948, ’49), Johnny Bower (1956, ’57, ’58), Fred Glover (1960, ’62, ’64), Gilles Villemure (1969, ’70), Doug Gibson (1975, ’77), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Ross Yates (1983), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Jody Gage (1988), John Anderson (1992), Derek Armstrong (2001), Jason Ward (2003), Jason LaBarbera (2004), Jason Spezza (2005), Darren Haydar (2007) and Jason Krog (2008).

Currently in its 74th season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 58 million fans have attended AHL games across North America over the past nine years. The 2009-10 season ends on Sunday, and 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2010 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.