An appeal to Doug Yingst regarding Bryan Helmer

[Ed. Note: Yesterday the Capitals/Bears signed both left wing Kyle Greentree and defenseman Brian Fahey to two-way contracts. Although both are proven players (Greentree scoring 121 points in 143 games over the last two seasons, and Fahey's 2008 Calder Cup championship) there is still room, and a need, for a veteran presence to assist in leading Hershey to its third consecutive AHL title. One gentleman comes to mind, and yet there has not been any talk of his signing, to which we respond with great dismay. If you agree with us, feel free to voice your opinion in our comments section or mail your own letter to Mr. Yingst.]

Doug Yingst
President/General Manager Hershey Bears Hockey Club
550 West Hersheypark Drive
Hershey, PA  17033

Dear Mr. Yingst:

Over the past week, we have seen numerous players depart the Washington/Hershey organization.  No longer will we see Alexandre Giroux light the lamp with his scoring prowess or show off his uncanny ability to grow and manipulate playoff beards.  Kyle Wilson is also a Bear no more, nor is his strong grit and defensive power.  Tough guy Greg Amadio has also packed up to move on, taking with him his self-sacrificing style of play and “sandpaper-esque” style.  Also gone is Jason Bacashihua, a gentleman both on and off the ice, who always put out more than what was asked of him in the net. 

Now I can’t fault you for the departure of these players.  Giroux had to take that deal with Edmonton to fulfill his life-long dream.  Kyle Wilson left for much of the same, a more legitimate chance to play in the NHL.  Amadio went back to where he started in hopes of more minutes and more opportunities that he couldn’t have had here.  Cash also signed with something comfortable, going back to an organization he’s been with before for more minutes. 

It’s no secret that John Carlson and Karl Alzner will be wearing Red instead of Chocolate come October.  The two of them are bound for greatness, and the Capitals need them.  It’s also being said that we could be losing another player to graduation – though no one can say for sure who that will be (Perreault?  Gordon?  Pinizzotto?). 

I know you’re a busy man, so I guess I’d better just get to the point here.  Why have you not signed Bryan Helmer yet?  He’s been such a significant part of the Bears’ roster these past two years, wearing the C both years, and more importantly, winning the Calder Cup both years.  He’s played a key role in mentoring defensive prospects such as Carlson, Alzner, Miskovic, Yeo, and P. McNeill, as well as helping to improve the game of the older defensemen (such as Collins, Wellar, and Amadio).  He’s made the community a priority (you know, that whole Helmer’s Heros program?), dove headfirst into charity initiatives (you saw him round up his teammates to shave their heads for children’s cancer, right?), and earned the respect of each of his teammates as well as the thousands of fans in Bears’ Nation. 

True, Helmer is no spring chicken.  Nor is he some young stud prospect that will tear up the AHL and then move on to the NHL.  The fact is, he’s an older defenseman that knows how to win and how to lose.  He has a wealth of knowledge and experience, and enjoys leading the team.  He cares about the history in Hershey and wants nothing more than to continue the traditions and carry out the values on which this organization was founded.  So why haven’t you signed him yet?

Surely, veteran limitations can’t be a factor here.  With Giroux, Wilson, Amadio, and Bacashihua gone that frees up 4 roster spots.  The graduation of another will open up a 5th.  You also can’t blame an overstaffing of D-men in this situation, as 3 defensemen have vacated Hershey (Amadio, Carlson, Alzner). 

Every Bears fan also happens to know that Helmer wants nothing more than to return to Hershey.  We all stood in the crowd as Helmer gave his speech at the Calder Cup celebration and turned to you and said “I would reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeealllllllllllllly like to come back for another year, Doug.”  He loves the team, the organization, the community, the fans, the Giant Center, the local media…

Mr. Yingst, you know as well as I do that Helmer totaled 32 points in 71 games and finished with a + 29 rating for the 2009-2010 regular season.  In the chase for the Calder Cup this past spring/summer – he managed 4 points and a +12 in 21 games.  Last year, in 2008-2009, Bryan tallied 27 points and a +18 rating in 63 games.  For the 2009 Calder Cup run he had 8 points with a -2 rating in 22 games.  For an older player, just looking at the numbers, I don’t see a man running on fumes.  I see a player improving.

So please, Mr. Yingst.  Do the right thing.  Sign Bryan Helmer for another year here in Hershey.  Let him lead the team through what could be one of its toughest years in recent memory (with the loss of so many key players).  Give him the chance to take the reigns and mentor the younger guys into the types of players we so dearly love in Hershey.  After all, when they make it to the NHL, that reflects well on you.

Sincerely,

A full-priced paying 40-game plan season ticket holder (that also buys the full-playoff-run plan as well as preferred parking for both the regular season and playoffs) and the rest of the Rock the Red team.

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