In the past four seasons, Bryan Helmer won two Calder Cups, became the AHL all-time leading scorer amongst defensemen, and played his 1,000th regular-season AHL game. To top it off, he won the 2010-2011 Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award and was named this season’s Captain of the Oklahoma City Barons.
The former Bears Captain was nice enough to catch up with Sweetest Hockey on Earth and talk about his experience as a key member of the Hershey team, his many career achievements, and life and hockey in Oklahoma.
Q.You’ve had some huge milestones with the OKC Barons. Is it safe to assume that you’ve been enjoying your time with the Barons?
A.I have been enjoying my time with the Barons. I’m just happy they gave me a chance to play and break those records. We’ve got a great young team here and it has been a lot of fun so far.
Q.How does Oklahoma City compare to Hershey, both at the arena and away from it?
A.Playing in Oklahoma is definitely different than Hershey because Hershey is such an established hockey town. Here in OKC, they are in a re-building phase which is exciting in its own way. Hershey obviously has some of the greatest hockey fans in the world and they are so supportive. OKC also has great fans, but we just need to get more of them. Both places are so family-friendly and the people in these cities have been so welcoming!
Q.Do you still keep in touch with any of your former Hershey teammates?
A.I do still keep in touch with many of my former Hershey teammates — we just got a Christmas card in the mail from one of them as we speak. We had such a close-knit group of guys and we had such great chemistry. We were so lucky to have that because that doesn’t come along too often!
Q.What is is like being the captain of a team? Do you enjoy the added responsibility?
A.Being the captain of a team is an honour and a privilege for me. Being the captain of a back-to-back Calder Cup winning team was really extra special, and more so because almost any guy on those teams could’ve been the captain. The added responsibility wasn’t as hard as it seemed because I had so much help from the other veteran players, not to mention all of the help from people behind the scenes like the coaching, training and office staff. And all of the support from the wives and girlfriends made it even that much easier. We had such a great two years in Hershey, and we really miss a lot of the people from there.
Q.Other than winning the Calder Cup, what was one of your favorite moments while you were with the Bears?
A.Playing in front of so many fans will always be one of my favourite memories of Hershey. I also loved representing Hershey at the All-Star game in Worcester.
Q.In the future, would you consider continuing to work in hockey, perhaps as a coach or analyst?
A.If I was lucky enough to be offered a job in the hockey world after I was done playing, it would definitely be something to consider. I’ve been so lucky to play this awesome sport for so long, and if something came up, it would be an added bonus.