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by Jamie Palatini / New York Islanders
American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that Bridgeport Sound Tigers Captain Mark Wotton will serve as a playing captain for the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital Blue Cross, to be held January 30-31 at Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. The captains for the American Hockey League All-Star teams are selected by the league president in recognition of their outstanding service and leadership to the AHL.

A veteran of 849 AHL games – most among all active players and good for 20th place all-time – 17-year pro Mark Wotton has worn the captain’s “C” for his team in 11 of his 14 seasons in the American Hockey League, including the last five with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Wotton is the Sound Tigers’ all-time leader in games played (321) and ranks fifth on the club’s all-time list in assists (84). Wotton has also played for Syracuse, Utah and Hershey, where he was a member of the Bears’ Calder Cup championship team in 2006. A native of Foxwarren, Man., Wotton, whose only previous AHL All-Star Classic appearance came in 1998, will captain the Eastern Conference All-Star team in Hershey next month.
American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews also announced that Oklahoma City’s Alexandre Giroux will serve as playing captain for the Western Conference All-Star Team. Giroux has been one of the pre-eminent offensive threats in the AHL over the last decade, totaling 316 goals (tied for 14th all-time) and 281 assists for 597 points in 662 regular-season games and 100 points in 112 playoff matches since turning pro with Grand Rapids in 2001. Giroux, who has played in the AHL with Binghamton, Hartford, Hershey, Chicago and now Oklahoma City, was named the AHL’s most valuable player in 2008-09 and reached three Calder Cup Finals with the Bears, winning titles in 2009 and 2010. The Quebec City native will be playing in his fourth AHL All-Star Classic (2007, 2009, 2010).
Previous players honored as AHL All-Star team captains include Nolan Baumgartner, Graham Mink, Bryan Helmer, Rory Fitzpatrick, Denis Hamel, Keith Aucoin, Mike Keane, Eric Healey, Craig Darby, Travis Richards, John Slaney, Randy Cunneyworth, Ken Gernander, Rob Murray, John Stevens, current Philadelphia Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette and American Hockey League Hall of Famers Jody Gage and Tim Tookey.
The 2011 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Capital BlueCross in Hershey will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League, competing in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition and the AHL All-Star Game, a two-day event to be televised nationally in the United States and Canada. Of the 528 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 93 percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Dan Boyle, Daniel Briere, Dustin Byfuglien, Brian Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Eric Fehr, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Zach Parise, Bobby Ryan, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Tomas Vokoun.
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