SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League has announced that Denis Hamel of the Binghamton Senators has been selected the winner of the Yanick Dupré Memorial Award as the 2007-08 American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year. The award is presented annually to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations.
In 2007-08, Hamel returned to Binghamton, where he had previously skated for the Senators from 2003-06, and immediately resumed his role as an ambassador and a fan favorite both on and off the ice.
The Sens’ captain has been the face of many of the organization’s community efforts including the team’s annual Toys For Tots dinner, where Hamel eschewed a normal one-hour shift in favor of a five-hour turn waiting tables and helping to make the toy-collecting fundraiser a tremendous success.
His enthusiasm also helped the Senators bring in more than $10,000 at this year’s Spaghetti on Ice event to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and he also led a group of players in an MDA charity basketball game with local firefighters and teachers.
Hamel was front and center at the Magic Paintbrush Project’s art workshop, painting and interacting with special-needs children and their families, and took time out of his schedule to team with the Steps to a Healthier New York program to tape a commercial encouraging kids to get outside and exercise.
Along with teammate Matt Carkner, the 2007 winner of the Yanick Dupré Award, Hamel organized a Face Off Against Cancer event at Binghamton’s game on Apr. 5, raising funds and awareness for the American Cancer Society and breast cancer research.
Other initiatives included visits to renal dialysis patients at the UHS Renal Care Center, to students at a French class at Binghamton High School, and to the four young sons of Binghamton police sergeant Geno DeAngelo, who soon after lost his battle with lung cancer.
A native of Lachute, Que., Hamel is a veteran of eight seasons in the American Hockey League and a three-time AHL All-Star. He has also spent significant time in the National Hockey League as well, appearing in 192 career NHL games.
The AHL’s annual Man of the Year award is named after the late Yanick Dupré, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 24 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. A second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, Dupré played four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears, and participated in the 1995 AHL All-Star Game. Previous winners of the award include John Jakopin (1998), Brent Thompson (1999), Mike Minard (2000, 2001), Travis Roche (2002), Jimmy Roy (2003), Kurtis Foster (2004), Duncan Milroy (2005), Mitch Fritz (2006) and Matt Carkner (2007).
Hamel will be presented with the Yanick Dupré Award in an on-ice presentation prior to the Senators’ game against Norfolk at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.
Currently in its 72nd season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 83 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 6 million fans have attended AHL games across North America in each of the past six seasons. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.