Helmer returning to Hershey

The 2009 Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears announced today the signing of defenseman Bryan Helmer to a contract for the upcoming 2009-10 season.

Helmer, 37, enjoyed a storybook season in 2008-09, serving as team captain on the way to Hershey’s Calder Cup triumph this past June. The rearguard from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., also was named captain of the Canadian AHL All-Star team in January, and played 12 games in the NHL with the Washington Capitals. His action in the NHL was his first since 2003-04.

During his stint in Washington, Helmer was named number-one star of the game on December 26, notching two assists in a game against the Buffalo Sabres at Verizon Center.

Helmer played in 63 games for the Bears last season, recording 27 points and 59 penalty minutes. His Calder Cup win was his second of his long and distinguished career, having also won in 1995 with the Albany River Rats.

“Bryan was a terrific leader in our dressing room during our Calder Cup run last year” said Bears president/GM Doug Yingst. “We are very pleased that that leadership will return again next season.”

Helmer enters the 2009-10 season with 911 AHL games played, good for 12th on the all-time list. His 367 career assists are 19 shy of the AHL record for a defenseman, held by Steve Kraftcheck, and his 481 points are 38 shy of John Slaney‘s league mark among blueliners.

Helmer also ranks third all-time with 117 career Calder Cup Playoff games played, six off Ken Gernander‘s league standard.