Wolf Pack’s Hutchinson wins Eddie Shore Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Andrew Hutchinson of the Hartford Wolf Pack has been named the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2007-08 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 29 cities.

Hutchinson, a sixth-year pro, has had a career year in Hartford in 2007-08, setting personal highs with 18 goals, 46 assists and 64 points in 65 games. He is also tied for fifth in the entire league with a plus-25 rating and tied for first among AHL defensemen with 13 power-play goals.

Named the third captain in franchise history earlier this season, Hutchinson has been a dependable defensive presence as well as an offensive catalyst: With him in the lineup, the Wolf Pack have a record of 41-14-2-8, score an average of 3.54 goals per game and convert on 23.3 percent of their power plays; without him, they are 6-6-0-0, average 2.00 goals per game and are 4-for-54 with the man advantage (7.4 percent).

A 28-year-old native of Evanston, Ill., Hutchinson has set franchise defenseman records for goals and points in a season and tied the mark for assists. He became the first Wolf Pack rearguard ever to register a hat trick in a win over Providence on Feb. 8, and had the first five-point game by a Hartford blueliner on Feb. 29 vs. Norfolk. Hutchinson won a Calder Cup with Milwaukee in 2004 and a Stanley Cup with Carolina in 2006, and has helped the Wolf Pack to the franchise’s 11th consecutive Calder Cup Playoff berth. He has totaled 49 goals and 111 assists for 160 points in 255 career AHL games, and has also skated in 95 NHL games, contributing 10 goals and 23 assists.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1959, honors the late Eddie Shore, a Hockey Hall of Famer and American Hockey League Hall of Famer widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of five Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and three as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous winners include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Al Arbour (1965), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Curtis Murphy (2003, ’04), Niklas Kronwall (2005) and Sheldon Brookbank (2007).

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 45 million fans have attended AHL games across North America since the start of the 2001-02 season. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2008 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.