News from the American Hockey League: The 2009 Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears announced on July 28th that team captain Bryan Helmer had re-signed with the club for the 2010 season. A valuable member on the blue line, Helmer played in 63 games last season, scoring 2 goals and adding 25 assists. In 22 playoff games, he scored 3 goals and 5 assists as Hershey won a record setting 10th Calder Cup. Last season, Helmer returned to the NHL for the first time since 2004, playing 12 games with the Washington Capitals.
In a press release from the club at their website, Hershey President and General Manager Doug Yingst discussed the important role Helmer played on the team last season and praised his leadership, “Bryan was a terrific leader in our dressing room during our Calder Cup run last year. We are very pleased that leadership will return again next season.”
At thirty-seven years old, Helmer embarks on his 17th season of professional hockey and speaking with him in late June, days before he met with the Bears General Manager, it was clear that there is plenty of hockey in Helmer’s future and Hershey was a destination of choice.
“I would love to come back. I am actually going to talk with the General Manager on Thursday (June 25th),” said Helmer. “I told myself, I really want to come back. My family really loves it here in Hershey and I love it here. Where else on a Wednesday night can you play in front of 9,000 or 10,000 people in the AHL?”
Having a young family also played a role in Helmer’s decision, “My son has made a lot of good friends here as well. I’d love to stay and we will see what happens I guess.”
A Calder Cup Champion with Albany in 1995, Helmer admitted that the Cup win in Hershey holds a special place in his heart; not only being part of a great team, his family was there to share the moment.
“They both hold a special place but this time was a little sweeter just because I got to share it with my family,” recalled Helmer. “I was dating my wife at the time when I won in Albany but she never celebrated it with me and this time, to have her there and also to have my son who is 8 and my daughter who is 4, to be a part of it made it that much sweeter. They both mean a lot to me but I think the second one has a bit more meaning to me because I could celebrate it with my family.”
Asked if coaching was in his future after his playing career, Helmer was quick to point out playing is still his main desire.
“It’s funny I get asked this all the time,” Helmer commented. “Some days I want to and there are other days when I don’t. I just want to keep playing to be honest and so I have not really thought of going into coaching yet. Obviously I love going to the rink and stuff, I love going out there and competing. Right now, I am just focusing on my career.”
The son of an Ontario Provincial Police Officer and born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Helmer grew up near Ottawa in Winchester, Ontario. He still returns to the Winchester area during the summer to recharge from a long season on the ice and this year, his family had a special guest, the Calder Cup.
“We spend our summers on the water, just relaxing and spending time with our family,” said Helmer. “The last time I won the Cup we never got to do this (bring the Cup home). I don’t know if it is something that Hershey does but I am going to take it home for a few days and then I send it on to the next guy; it’s going to be fun.”
As another exciting season of AHL hockey approaches and the Hershey Bears attempt to win back-to-back Calder Cups, an important piece to the puzzle is now in place; Bryan Helmer will once again take to the ice at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. A role model and leader, on and off the ice, the Bears have a tremendous hockey citizen and captain for another year.