Unheralded and undrafted after four seasons of Junior “A” and Junior “B” hockey, Bryan Helmer went on to play more games and record more assists and points than any defenseman in the history of the American Hockey League.
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., Helmer made his pro debut with the Albany River Rats in 1993 and played five seasons in Albany, helping the club to a Calder Cup championship in 1995 and earning First Team AHL All-Star honors in 1997-98. Helmer later skated for the Worcester IceCats (1998-2000), the Manitoba Moose (2001-03) and the Springfield Falcons (2003-04) before joining the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he did not miss a single game during two seasons and was named a Second Team AHL All-Star in 2005-06.
Helmer then spent two years as captain of the San Antonio Rampage (2006-08) and then two seasons with the Hershey Bears (2008-10), where he captained the club to back-to-back Calder Cup championships. In 2009, Helmer was selected to wear the “C” for the Canadian team at the AHL All-Star Classic.
Helmer joined the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010, and on Feb. 18, 2011, became the seventh player in league history to reach 1,000 regular-season games. He was the recipient of the league’s Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award in 2010-11, as the player exemplifying sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
After two seasons with the Barons, Helmer completed his 20-year professional playing career back in Springfield, retiring in 2013 in third place all-time with 1,117 regular-season games played, and first among AHL defensemen with 435 assists and 564 points. Helmer also played more postseason games (159) than anyone in AHL history – including seven trips to the conference finals and his three Calder Cups – and he finished with a cumulative plus/minus rating of +188, finishing at +15 or better eight times.