The Washington Capitals and Hershey Bears announced today that Troy Mann has been named the 25th head coach in Bears history, and that Bryan Helmer has been named assistant coach.
Mann, 44, returns to Chocolatetown for his first AHL head coaching role as the leader of the American Hockey League’s eldest and most storied franchise. Having helped guide the club to the 2010 Calder Cup championship and three subsequent postseason appearances as an assistant coach, Mann returns to oversee the 2014-15 Hershey Bears.
“Once again the Hershey Bears had an abundance of outstanding candidates interested in guiding the hockey club,” said Bears president/general manager Doug Yingst. “After a successful return to the head coaching role last season, and after four proven years here, I am thrilled to welcome Troy Mann back to Hershey.”
Mann, a native of Campbellton, N.B., helped turn the season around for the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors in 2013-14. The Condors advanced six games into the Western Conference finals under Mann’s leadership, the furthest the team has ever played. Bakersfield finished with a regular-season record of 36-30-2-4 under Mann.
Mann’s career in Hershey spanned four years, beginning with the Bears’ record-setting 2009-10 campaign. The club finished with an AHL-record 60 wins and 34 home wins en route to a second consecutive Calder Cup title. Hershey’s penalty kill thrived under Mann’s watch, as the Bears finished in the AHL’s top 10 in all four of his seasons as assistant coach, including a league-best 87.4 percent in 2009-10.
Prior to joining Hershey, Mann had served as associate head coach of the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers in 2008-09, and as head coach of the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno from 2006-08. As a player, Mann won the Kelly Cup championship as a member of the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1998-99.
Playing under Mann’s guidance and serving as one of the captains of the Bears’ incredible 2009-10 season, Helmer returns to Hershey after making his coaching debut as assistant coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. The Petes finished third in the OHL’s East Division under Helmer in 2013-14, posting a record of 32-30-0-6.
The 41-year-old Helmer, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is the American Hockey League’s all-time leader in assists (435) and points (564) by a defenseman. During his 20-year playing career, Helmer played 1,117 regular-season AHL games, a number which ranks third in AHL history. Helmer is also the AHL’s all-time leader in Calder Cup playoff appearances, having played in 159 postseason games. He has piled up 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) and celebrated the AHL championship three times (Albany, 1995; Hershey, 2009 and 2010).
Helmer also earned two postseason All-Star Team recognitions during his time in the AHL, and while playing with the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010-11, he was awarded the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the player who best exemplified the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
Helmer’s National Hockey League career featured 146 games played with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington. He has a total of 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in the NHL.