Hamel, Aucoin named All-Star captains

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that Denis Hamel of the Binghamton Senators and Keith Aucoin of the Albany River Rats will serve as playing captains for the 2008 AHL All-Star Classic in Binghamton, N.Y., next month.

Captains for the American Hockey League All-Star teams are selected by the league president in recognition of their outstanding service and leadership to the AHL.

Making his third career AHL All-Star Classic appearance (2000, 2006), left wing Denis Hamel is the Binghamton Senators franchise leader in goals, assists, points and games played. He currently leads the AHL with 16 goals on the season, and has registered 227 goals and 195 assists for 422 points in 533 career AHL games with Binghamton and Rochester. A Calder Cup finalist with the Americans in 1999 and 2000, Hamel was a First Team AHL All-Star in 2003-04 and earned a share of the AHL’s Willie Marshall Award in 2005-06, when he tied for the league lead with 56 goals. Hamel, a native of Lachute, Que., will captain the Canadian AHL All-Star team.

aucoin3_200.jpgKeith Aucoin has played 416 career AHL games, totaling 131 goals and 281 assists for 412 points, including a team-best 24 points in 19 games with Albany this season. He has finished among the top 10 in AHL scoring three times in the last five years, and set career highs and franchise records with 72 assists and 99 points for the River Rats in 2006-07. Aucoin, who has added two assists in six NHL outings with the Carolina Hurricanes this season, was selected as a Second Team AHL All-Star at center in both 2006 and 2007, and is set to make his third career and third consecutive AHL All-Star Classic appearance. The native of Waltham, Mass., will captain the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team.

Previous players honored as AHL All-Star team captains include Mike Keane, Kip Miller, Eric Healey, Jimmy Roy, Craig Darby, Travis Richards, John Slaney, Randy Cunneyworth, Ken Gernander, current NHL head coaches Peter Laviolette and John Stevens and American Hockey League Hall of Famers Jody Gage and Tim Tookey.

Of the 427 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, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, Patrik Elias, Ray Emery, Miikka Kiprusoff, Chris Kunitz, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Steve Sullivan.

The 2008 AHL All-Star Classic will take place at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, home of the AHL’s Senators. The event features the 2008 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, January 27 (7:00 ET) and the 2008 AHL All-Star Game on Monday, January 28 (7:00 ET), and will be televised live in the United States and Canada.