07/02/2014 - HERSHEY, Pa. – The Hershey Bears announced today that Troy Mann has been named the 25th head coach in the history of the Hockey Club, and that Bryan Helmer has been named assistant coach. The announcements were made by Washington Capitals Senior Vice President and General Manager Brian MacLellan and Bears President/General Manager Doug Yingst.
Mann, 44, returns to Chocolatetown for his first AHL head coaching role as the leader of the American Hockey League’s eldest and most storied franchise. Having helped guide the club to the 2010 Calder Cup championship and three subsequent postseason appearances, Mann returns to oversee the 2014-2015 Hershey Bears.
“Once again the Hershey Bears had an abundance of outstanding candidates interested in guiding the Hockey Club,” Yingst said. “After a successful return to the head coaching role last season, and after four proven years here, I am thrilled to welcome Troy Mann back to Hershey.”
Mann, a native of Campbellton, New Brunswick, helped turn the season around for the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors in 2013-2014. The Condors advanced six games into the Western Conference finals under Mann’s leadership, the furthest the team has ever played. Bakersfield finished with a regular-season record of 36-30-2-4 under Mann, good for second in the ECHL’s Pacific Division.
Mann’s career in Hershey spanned four years, beginning with the Bears’ record-setting 2009-2010 campaign. The club finished with an AHL-record 60 wins and 34 home wins en route to a second consecutive Calder Cup title. Hershey’s penalty kill thrived under Mann’s watch, as the Bears finished in the AHL’s top ten in all four of his seasons as assistant coach, including a league-best 87.4% in 2009-2010.
Mann has had a hand in developing numerous defensemen who played both in Hershey and in Washington, such as Karl Alzner, Julien Brouillette, John Carlson, Steve Oleksy, Dmitry Orlov, Cameron Schilling and Nate Schmidt. He was also behind the bench for two AHL All-Star Classics (2010, 2011).
Prior to joining Hershey, Mann served as associate head coach of the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers in 2008-2009, and as head coach of the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno from 2006-2008. As a player, Mann won the Kelly Cup championship as a member of the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1998-1999, playing for former Bears and Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Playing under Mann’s guidance and serving as captain of the Bears’ incredible 2009-2010 season, Helmer returns to Hershey after making his coaching debut as assistant coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. The Petes finished third in the OHL’s East Division under Helmer in 2013-2014, posting a record of 32-30-0-6.
The 41-year-old Helmer, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is the American Hockey League’s all-time leader in points by a defenseman. He recorded 564 points (129 goals, 435 assists) in a remarkable 20-year career that totaled 1,117 regular-season games – a number which ranks third in AHL history. Helmer is also the AHL’s all-time leader in Calder Cup playoff appearances, having played in 159 postseason games. He has piled up 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) and celebrated the AHL championship three times (Albany, 1995; Hershey, 2009 and 2010).
Helmer also earned two postseason All-Star Team recognitions during his time in the AHL, and while playing with the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010-2011, he was awarded the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the player who best exemplified the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
“Bryan Helmer is without a doubt a future Hall-of-Famer,” Yingst said. “He was a winner on the ice in both of his years here in Hershey, and I knew that he would become a very successful coach. I am proud to give Bryan the opportunity to continue his coaching career and to help Troy guide our team back to the championship form it had when he played.”
Helmer’s National Hockey League career featured 146 games played with Phoenix, St. Louis, Vancouver and Washington. He has a total of 26 points (eight goals, 18 assists) in the NHL.
A formal press conference to introduce Mann and Helmer to the media and Hockey Club staff is planned for Thursday, July 3 at 2:00 PM in the Bud Light Champions Club Lounge at GIANT Center. Bears President/General Manager Doug Yingst will also be available to the media at that time. More information will be forthcoming in a future release to the media.