One of the longest active careers in professional hockey is coming to an end.
Bryan Helmer, the American Hockey League’s all-time leader Calder Cup playoff games played, has announced his retirement at age 41.
Some will recognize the veteran defenseman from his 146 NHL games with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington, but he’ll largely be remembered as one of the American League’s most outstanding players over the last two decades.
Helmer played 19 seasons in the AHL from 1993-2013. He ranks third all-time in games played (1,117, the most by a defenseman) and is the AHL’s all-time leader in points (564) and assists (435) by a blueliner.
Undrafted out of the OJHL, Helmer began his AHL run with Albany in 1993, winning a Calder Cup with the River Rats two years later.
In 2009 and 2010, he again captured the Calder as captain of the Hershey Bears.
Though he’s retired from pro hockey, Helmer isn’t walking away from the game entirely. This fall, he’ll join OHL Peterborough as one of head coach Jody Hull’s assistants.
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.