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CSNWashington's Corey Masisak has a really nice piece on Bryan Helmer, who you might remember from his short stint with the Washington Capitals. Helmer has been a large part of the Hershey Bears' success, helping them win the Calder Cup last year, and was both captain of the Bears as well as the AHL All-Star Team. What you might not know? Helmer is 37 years old. The best part of his call up to the Caps?
“I was able to get back to the NHL, and now my kids know that I played there,” Helmer said. “They knew I played there, but especially for my son – last time I was there he was like two-and-a-half years old. He just kept saying to me, ‘Dad, when are you going to get called up? When are you going to get called up?’ Now he remembers. My daughter wasn’t born at the time, but she gets to remember too. It was sweet that way.”
The story gets even better, Helmer wasn't drafted by an NHL team, and has been playing in hockey's minor leagues for 17 years. In April, Helmer set the record for games played for a defenseman in the AHL. He also holds the record for assists by a defenseman in the league.
Find out more about Bryan and some key quotes after the jump.
So how do you stick around the minor leagues for 17 years? It probably helps if your coach respects and values your contributions.
“He’s one of those guys that has seen just about everything you can see at the professional hockey level and I think he steadies our room,” Hershey coach Mark French said. “I think he offers a voice that the other players trust. He shows up every night and he competes. He’s played a ton of minutes for us, which is a little surprising given his age. I think the thing that echoes for me is the overall love and passion for the game. Anyone who has played for that long and at the age he has, he shows up at the rink with such a great attitude and I think that is infectious.”
It also helps if you can recognize a good situation when you are in it.
“If you’re going to be in the American Hockey League, Hershey is the place to be,” Helmer said. “It is a great organization, a winning organization. They always want to have a winning team, and I enjoyed it here last year. My family enjoys it here and it is a great small-town atmosphere. Where else in the American League can you play in front of 10,000 people every night?
Paging Albert Haynesworth: you might want to read this article and learn what real work looks like.