SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that left wing Chris Bourque of the Hershey Bears has been voted the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player for the 2015-16 season. The award is voted on by coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 30 cities.
Bourque is vying for his second career AHL scoring title in 2015-16, heading into the final weekend of the regular season with a career-high 30 goals and a league-best 79 points in 70 games played. He paces the Atlantic Division leading Bears in goals, assists, points, power-play goals (10), and game-winners (5), and is second among Hershey forwards with a plus-17 rating as well. Bourque has put together four separate scoring streaks of seven games or longer and has registered 20 multiple-point games while leading Hershey to the third-ranked offense in the league (3.44 goals per game); the Bears are 32-11-3-5 this season when he records a point, and 7-8-2-2 when he does not.
Bourque’s first regular-season MVP award is the latest honor for the 11th-year pro, who has won three Calder Cup titles with Hershey (2006, 2009, 2010) and was selected as the most valuable player of the 2010 playoffs. The Boston, Mass., native participated in his fourth AHL All-Star Classic this winter, and also earned his third career First Team AHL All-Star selection last week. Bourque has totaled 201 goals and 377 assists for 578 points in 580 career AHL games with Hershey, Hartford, Providence and Portland, and ranks seventh all-time in postseason scoring with 95 points in 100 Calder Cup Playoff contests. Originally a second-round draft choice by Washington in 2004, Bourque has recorded two goals and six assists in 51 career NHL games with Washington, Pittsburgh and Boston.
The AHL’s most valuable player award honors the late Les Cunningham, a member of the AHL Hall of Fame who was a five-time league All-Star and three-time Calder Cup champion with the Cleveland Barons. Previous winners of the award include Carl Liscombe (1948, ’49), Johnny Bower (1956, ’57, ’58), Fred Glover (1960, ’62, ’64), Mike Nykoluk (1967), Gilles Villemure (1969, ’70), Doug Gibson (1975, ’77), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Ross Yates (1983), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Tim Tookey (1987), Jody Gage (1988), John Anderson (1992), Don Biggs (1993), Derek Armstrong (2001), Jason Spezza (2005), Darren Haydar (2007), Keith Aucoin (2010), Tyler Johnson (2013), Travis Morin (2014) and Brian O’Neill (2015).
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2015-16 regular season ends Sunday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.