Bears’ staff to coach in All-Star Classic

her_200.jpgSPRINGFIELD, Mass. … Head coach Bob Woods and assistant coach Mark French of the Hershey Bears have been named the coaches of the Canadian AHL All-Star team for the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications, to take place Jan. 25-26 in Worcester, Mass.

Woods and French earned the honor because the Bears own the best record in the AHL as of the pre-determined deadline, the end of play today. Following their 7-2 win over the Worcester Sharks on Sunday, the Bears are 26-9-0-1, good for 53 points and first place in the East Division.

Woods, 40, is in his first full season as the Bears’ head coach, having taken over on Nov. 22, 2007, following Bruce Boudreau’s promotion to the Washington Capitals, and has a record of 60-34-7 (.629) in 101 games at the helm.

A native of LeRoy, Sask., Woods has been a member of two Calder Cup championship teams in Hershey, as a defenseman in 1997 and as an assistant coach in 2006, and was an assistant coach at the 2007 AHL All-Star Classic in Toronto.

French was named Hershey’s assistant coach on Jan. 2, 2008 and helped guide the team to a postseason berth last season. French came to Hershey from the Wichita Thunder (CHL), where he served as head coach and director of hockey operations from 2005-07.

Because the Chicago Wolves won the Calder Cup championship in 2008, their current staff of head coach Don Granato and assistants Jason Christie and Wendell Young will serve as the coaches for the PlanetUSA team. John Anderson was promoted to the Atlanta Thrashers after guiding the Wolves to the title last spring.

The 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League competing in the 2009 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 25 (4:00 p.m. ET), and the 2009 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 26 (7:00 p.m. ET). The event will be televised nationally in the United States and Canada.

Of the 455 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 94 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Dan Boyle, Brian Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Rick DiPietro, Jiri Hudler, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Zach Parise, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Tomas Vokoun.