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Smith, Fuhr to be honored by AHL

The American Hockey League announced today that Hockey Hall of Famers Billy Smith and Grant Fuhr will be honored at the 2004 Pepsi AHL All-Star Classic, to be held February 8-9 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Both graduates of the AHL, Smith and Fuhr were the National Hockey League’s two most dominant goaltenders in the 1980’s, combining to win nine Stanley Cups in 11 seasons between 1980 and 1990.

Now a goaltending analyst for the New York Islanders, Billy Smith helped turn that franchise from a struggling expansion team into a dynasty. He led the AHL’s Springfield Kings to a Calder Cup championship in 1971 before joining the Islanders, where he would win four consecutive Stanley Cups and capture the Vezina Trophy (1982) and the Conn Smythe Trophy (1983) along the way. Smith, who posted 305 victories in a career that spanned 18 NHL seasons, was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993. He is one of only 13 men ever to achieve the trifecta of a Calder Cup title, a Stanley Cup title and induction in the Hall.

Grant Fuhr also honed his skills in the American Hockey League, playing for the Moncton Alpines (1982-83) before leading the Edmonton Oilers to five Stanley Cup championships in a seven-year span, including facing off with Smith’s Islanders in the 1983 and 1984 Finals. A Vezina Trophy winner in 1988, Fuhr also tended goal for the AHL’s Cape Breton Oilers (1989-90, 90-91), Rochester Americans (1993-94) and Saint John Flames (1999-2000) during his 19-year pro career, which included NHL stops in Toronto, Buffalo, Los Angeles, St. Louis and Calgary. One of six goalies in NHL history to win 400 games, Fuhr was honored with a first-ballot selection into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.

Each year at its All-Star Classic, the AHL honors selected members of the Hockey Hall of Fame with ties to the league. Past honorees include Brad Park, Rod Langway, George Armstrong, Glen Sather, Bill Torrey, Al Arbour, Bill Barber, Ken Dryden, Lorne “Gump” Worsley, Johnny Bower, Glenn Hall and Emile Francis. The selected honorees are featured at the Hockey Hall of Fame/AHL All-Star Luncheon, which has traditionally been attended by nearly 1,000 guests on the morning of the AHL All-Star Game.

Of the 295 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 91 percent have competed in the NHL, including Daniel Briere, Andrew Brunette, Anson Carter, Pavol Demitra, Rick DiPietro, J.P. Dumont, Mike Dunham, Patrik Elias, Rico Fata, Manny Legace, John Madden, Brendan Morrison, Ladislav Nagy, Vaclav Prospal, Dwayne Roloson, Martin St. Louis, Marc Savard, Jason Spezza, Steve Sullivan and Tomas Vokoun.

The 2004 Pepsi AHL All-Star Classic will take place at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., home of the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. The event gets underway on Sunday, February 8, with the 2004 AHL All-Star Skills Competition at 7:00 p.m. (ET). The annual All-Star Game follows at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on Monday, February 9, and will be televised live in the United States and Canada.