Spezza wins Les Cunningham Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Jason Spezza of the Binghamton Senators has been named the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player for the 2004-05 season, as voted by players and members of the media in each of the league’s 28 cities.

Named a 2004-05 First Team AHL All-Star last week, Spezza has had one of the finest offensive seasons by an AHL player in recent history, leading Binghamton to the brink of its second division title in three years heading into the final weekend of the regular season. He leads the league with 81 assists (18 more than anyone else in the league) and 113 points (most by an AHL player since 1996) in 78 games, and is currently on an 18-game scoring streak, the longest in the AHL in seven years.

Spezza has registered 34 multiple-point games on the season, including five four-point nights and a five-point effort on Feb. 19 at Manchester. The second overall pick by Ottawa in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Spezza has twice been named the CCM Vector/AHL Player of the Week this year, and played in his second career AHL All-Star Classic in February. A native of Mississauga, Ont., the 21-year-old Spezza is the youngest player to win the Les Cunningham Award since 1989.

This award, which was first presented in 1948, honors the late Les Cunningham, a five-time AHL All-Star and three-time Calder Cup champion who averaged better than a point per game over his 10-year career with the original Cleveland Barons. He left the AHL in 1947 as the league’s leading scorer with 579 career points. Previous winners of the Les Cunningham Award include Carl Liscombe (1947, ’48), Johnny Bower (1956, ’57, ’58), Fred Glover (1960, ’62, ’64), Mike Nykoluk (1967), Gilles Villemure (1969, ’70), Doug Gibson (1975, ’77), Pelle Lindbergh (1981), Paul Gardner (1985, ’86), Jody Gage (1988), John Anderson (1992), Brad Smyth (1996), Derek Armstrong (2001), Eric Boguniecki (2002), Jason Ward (2003) and Jason LaBarbera (2004).

In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. This season, more than 6.4 million fans – an all-time league record – have attended AHL games to date, and 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.

Les Cunningham Award
Season Player
2004-05 Jason Spezza, Binghamton
2003-04 Jason LaBarbera, Hartford
2002-03 Jason Ward, Hamilton
2001-02 Eric Boguniecki, Worcester
2000-01 Derek Armstrong, Hartford
1999-2000 Martin Brochu, Portland
1998-99 Randy Robitaille, Providence
1997-98 Steve Guolla, Kentucky
1996-97 Jean-Francois Labbe, Hershey
1995-96 Brad Smyth, Carolina
1994-95 Steve Larouche, P.E.I.
1993-94 Rich Chernomaz, St. John’s
1992-93 Don Biggs, Binghamton
1991-92 John Anderson, New Haven
1990-91 Kevin Todd, Utica
1989-90 Paul Ysebaert, Utica
1988-89 Stephan Lebeau, Sherbrooke
1987-88 Jody Gage, Rochester
1986-87 Tim Tookey, Hershey
1985-86 Paul Gardner, Rochester
1984-85 Paul Gardner, Binghamton
1983-84 Garry Lariviere, St. Catharines;
Mal Davis, Rochester (tie)
1982-83 Ross Yates, Binghamton
1981-82 Mike Kaszycki, New Brunswick
1980-81 Pelle Lindbergh, Maine
1979-80 Norm Dube, Nova Scotia
1978-79 Rocky Saganiuk, New Brunswick
1977-78 Blake Dunlop, Maine
1976-77 Doug Gibson, Rochester
1975-76 Ron Andruff, Nova Scotia
1974-75 Doug Gibson, Rochester
1973-74 Art Stratton, Rochester
1972-73 Bill Inglis, Cincinnati
1971-72 Garry Peters, Boston
1970-71 Fred Speck, Baltimore
1969-70 Gilles Villemure, Buffalo
1968-69 Gilles Villemure, Buffalo
1967-68 Dave Creighton, Providence
1966-67 Mike Nykoluk, Hershey
1965-66 Dick Gamble, Rochester
1964-65 Art Stratton, Buffalo
1963-64 Fred Glover, Cleveland
1962-63 Denis DeJordy, Buffalo
1961-62 Fred Glover, Cleveland
1960-61 Phil Maloney, Buffalo
1959-60 Fred Glover, Cleveland
1958-59 Bill Hicke, Rochester;
Rudy Migay, Rochester (tie)
1957-58 Johnny Bower, Cleveland
1956-57 Johnny Bower, Providence
1955-56 Johnny Bower, Providence
1954-55 Ross Lowe, Springfield
1953-54 George Sullivan, Hershey
1952-53 Eddie Olson, Cleveland
1951-52 Ray Powell, Providence
1950-51 Ab DeMarco, Buffalo
1949-50 Les Douglas, Cleveland
1948-49 Carl Liscombe, Providence
1947-48 Carl Liscombe, Providence