FALCONS SIGN DECORATED DEFENSEMAN HELMER
Springfield, Mass. - The Springfield Falcons, AHL affiliate of the NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets, announced on Thursday that they have signed veteran defenseman Bryan Helmer to an AHL standard player contract for the remainder of the 2012-2013 season. Helmer is third in the AHL's 77-year history with 1,093 games played and is the league's career leader among defensemen with 562 points and 433 assists.
Helmer has skated with eight AHL teams in his career and will make his second appearance with the Falcons, having participated in nine games with the club in 2003-2004. A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Helmer has also played for the Albany River Rats (1993 to 1998), the Worcester IceCats (1998 to 2000), the Manitoba Moose (2001 to 2003), the Grand Rapids Griffins (2004 to 2006), the San Antonio Rampage (2006 to 2008), the Hershey Bears (2008 to 2010), and the Oklahoma City Barons (2010 to 2012).
The 40-year-old Helmer has played in a record 158 Calder Cup Playoff games and will become the third player in league history to participate in 19 AHL seasons once he takes the ice with the Falcons this year. He is a three-time Calder Cup champion, winning with Albany in 1994-1995 and Hershey in 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. Helmer served as the Bears captain during their most recent league-title seasons and has also held that role for Oklahoma City and San Antonio. He captained the Canadian All-Star Team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic.
In addition to his distinguished AHL career, Helmer has skated in 146 NHL games with the Phoenix Coyotes (1998-1999, 2003-2004), St. Louis Blues (1998 to 2000), Vancouver Canucks (2000 to 2003), and Washington Capitals (2008-2009), collecting 26 points (8g-18a). He has seen action in six Stanley Cup Playoff contests.
Helmer has been noted for his work off the ice during his career, most recently having been named Oklahoma City's winner of the IOA/American Speciality AHL Man of the Year Award in 2011-2012. He won the AHL's Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award in 2010-2011, an accolade given annually to a player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination, and dedication to hockey.
In 1997-1998 with Albany, Helmer set career highs of 63 points and 49 assists and tied his personal mark with 14 goals, originally posted with the River Rats in 1995-1996.
Helmer has played with current Falcons Greg Amadio (Grand Rapids, Hershey) and Andrew Joudrey (Hershey).
He skated in 50 IHL games with the Las Vegas Thunder (1998-1999) and Kansas City Blades (2000-2001), registering 23 points (5g-18a).
In 1,289 professional games between the NHL, AHL, and IHL, Helmer has compiled 142 goals and 469 assists for 611 points.
Northeast Division-leading Springfield heads to Worcester for the first of eight meetings with the Sharks this Friday at 7:30 p.m. before returning home to the MassMutual Center to host Providence on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Comcast is the presenting sponsor of Saturday's game. Fans can win a free bicycle courtesy of Gus Coelho Auto Repair at 442 Holyoke St. in Ludlow as part of "Cycle Saturday" at the MassMutual Center (GusAutoRepair.net).
Single-game tickets to see the Falcons in 2012-2013 can be purchased at the MassMutual Center Box Office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. through game time on Saturday home dates, and starting four hours prior to Sunday home contests. Fans can also purchase tickets by logging onto Ticketmaster.com. For information about discounted group packages to Falcons home games, call (413) 739-GOAL (4625).