Wolves’ Haydar named AHL MVP

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that right wing Darren Haydar of the Chicago Wolves has been named the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player for the 2006-07 season, as voted by players and members of the media in each of the league’s 27 cities.

Named a 2006-07 First Team AHL All-Star last week, Haydar leads the American Hockey League with 77 assists and 116 points in 70 games heading into the final weekend of the regular season. He began his assault on AHL goaltenders on opening night, when he scored twice in a 5-0 win at Peoria. Haydar went on to record a point in each of Chicago’s first 39 games of the season, the longest scoring streak in the 71-year history of the AHL. He averaged better than two points per game (24g, 55a) during the three-month streak.

All told, Haydar has recorded points in 61 of his 70 games this season, including 34 multiple-point efforts, to pace the Wolves’ league-leading offense. He was voted to the starting lineup for the Canadian team at the 2007 Rbk Hockey AHL All-Star Classic, and also made his return to the National Hockey League after a four-year absence, playing four games with the parent Atlanta Thrashers.

A Toronto native, Haydar continues to pile up the accolades in this, his fifth AHL season. The winner of the Dudley “Red” Garrett Award as the league’s outstanding rookie in 2002-03 captured a Calder Cup championship with Milwaukee in 2004 and returned to the Finals in 2006, leading the AHL in postseason scoring both years. Haydar has 149 goals and 243 assists for 392 points in 363 career AHL games.

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 with the original Cleveland Barons who left the AHL in 1947 as the league’s career scoring leader with 579 points.

Previous winners of the Les Cunningham Award include Carl Liscombe (1948, ’49), 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), Jason LaBarbera (2004), Jason Spezza (2005) and Donald MacLean (2006).

Now in its 71st 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 6.3 million fans have attended AHL games across North America in each of the past five seasons. Sixteen clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.