Helmer retires to join coaching ranks

Bryan Helmer, who played more games and recorded more assists and points than any defenseman in the 77-year history of the American Hockey League, has retired to become an assistant coach with the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League.

Helmer, 41, played 20 seasons of professional hockey from 1993-2013, including 19 in the AHL. His 1,117 regular-season AHL games rank third all-time behind only forwards Willie Marshall (1,205) and Fred Glover (1,201), and his 435 assists and 564 points are both the most ever by an AHL defenseman.

Helmer also played 159 postseason games in the AHL, most all-time, and his 60 Calder Cup Playoff points are the most by a blueliner. Helmer won Calder Cup championships in 1995 with the Albany River Rats, and in 2009 and 2010 as captain of the Hershey Bears.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Helmer skated for the River Rats (1993-98), the Worcester IceCats (1998-2000), the Manitoba Moose (2001-03), the Springfield Falcons (2003-04, 2012-13), the Grand Rapids Griffins (2004-06), the San Antonio Rampage (2006-08), the Bears (2008-10) and the Oklahoma City Barons (2010-12).

Helmer was named a First Team AHL All-Star in 1997-98 and was a Second Team selection in 2005-06, and made his only All-Star Classic appearance in 2009 as captain of the Canadian All-Star team. In 2010-11, Helmer was the recipient of the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the AHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.

In addition to his distinguished AHL career, Helmer skated in 146 NHL games with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington, collecting eight goals and 18 assists. He also saw action in six Stanley Cup Playoff contests.