SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that Bryan Helmer of the Hershey Bears and Rory Fitzpatrick of the Rochester Americans will serve as playing captains for the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications, to be held January 25-26 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass.
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.
Set to make his first career AHL All-Star Classic appearance, defenseman Bryan Helmer is in his 15th season in the American Hockey League and his first in Hershey, where he served as the Bears’ captain. He ranks tied for 16th in AHL history with 871 career games played for seven teams, including a stint in Worcester with the IceCats in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. This season, Helmer has appeared in 23 games with Hershey and another six in the National Hockey League with the parent Washington Capitals.
Helmer, 36, won a Calder Cup championship with Albany in 1995 and has been named both a First Team AHL All-Star (1998) and a Second Team All-Star (2006). A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Helmer will captain the Canadian AHL All-Star team.
Rory Fitzpatrick returned to his native Rochester, N.Y., for his third stint with the hometown Americans in 2008-09. The 33-year-old defenseman and Amerks captain has played 383 career games in the AHL and 287 more in the National Hockey League over his 14 professional seasons, including parts of four seasons with the Worcester IceCats (1996-2000) during which he participated in the 1997 and 1998 AHL All-Star Classics.
Fitzpatrick played in the 1995 Calder Cup Finals (opposite Helmer) and helped the Amerks capture a regular-season points title in 2004-05. He will captain the PlanetUSA AHL All-Star team.
Previous players honored as AHL All-Star team captains include Denis Hamel, Keith Aucoin, Mike Keane, Eric Healey, Craig Darby, Travis Richards, John Slaney, Randy Cunneyworth, Ken Gernander, Rob Murray, Peter Laviolette, current Philadelphia Flyers head coach John Stevens and American Hockey League Hall of Famers Jody Gage and Tim Tookey.
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.
The 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications will feature 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), and will be televised live nationally in the United States and Canada.