SPRINGFIELD, MA/MANCHESTER, NH – The American Hockey League announced Tuesday that Harry Sinden will be the Hockey Hall of Fame honoree and Gerry Cheevers and Manchester Monarchs General Manager Ron Hextall will serve as honorary captains at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications, to be held Jan. 25-26 at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts.
Hextall, currently the Vice President and Assistant General Manager of the Los Angeles Kings and General Manager of the Monarchs, won the Dudley "Red" Garrett Award as the AHL's outstanding rookie in 1985-86 when he led the Hershey Bears to a division title and a trip to the Calder Cup Finals. A year later, Hextall claimed both the Vezina Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy as a rookie with the Philadelphia Flyers, beginning a stellar NHL career that would see him win 296 games over 13 seasons with Philadelphia, Quebec and the New York Islanders.
Cheevers played 181 games in the American Hockey League with the Rochester Americans and Pittsburgh Hornets before becoming an iconic player in Boston Bruins history. In 1964-65, Cheevers authored one of the best seasons ever by an AHL goaltender when he played all 72 games for Rochester, led the league in goals-against-average and set a still-standing AHL record with 48 victories en route to winning the franchise's first Calder Cup. Cheevers went on to capture two Stanley Cups in Boston and later served as the Bruins' head coach from 1980-85.
Cheevers and Hextall will serve as the honorary team captains for the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic. Previous honorary captains have included Ken Holland, Larry Pleau, Adam Oates, Steve Thomas, John Ferguson, Ab McDonald, Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Adam Graves, Joe Kocur, Kevin Dineen, Gordie Clark, Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sittler, Don Cherry, Bill Dineen, Jim Craig and Al MacNeil.
Sinden, a 1983 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, has been a familiar face in the New England hockey community for better than four decades, including a stint as a defenseman with the AHL's Providence Reds in 1962-63. Following his playing career, Sinden became head coach of the Bruins and would guide the club to a Stanley Cup championship in 1970. He was head coach and general manager of Team Canada in the historic 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union, then returned to Boston to serve as General Manager of the Bruins for 28 seasons. He was also team President for 17 years (1989-2006) before moving into his current role as senior advisor to the owner.
Sinden will be the honored guest at the annual Hockey Hall of Fame/AHL All-Star Luncheon, which each year honors a Hockey Hall of Famer with ties to the AHL. Past honorees include Emile Francis, Andy Bathgate, Serge Savard, Larry Robinson, Billy Smith, Grant Fuhr, Rod Langway, Brad Park, George Armstrong, Glen Sather, Bill Torrey, Al Arbour, Bill Barber, Ken Dryden, Lorne "Gump" Worsley, Johnny Bower and Glenn Hall. All told, more than 100 of the Hall's honored members are AHL alumni.
The 2009 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Charter Communications will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League competing in the annual All-Star Skills Competition and the 2009 AHL All-Star Game, a two-day event to be televised nationally in the United States and Canada. Of the 455 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 94-percent have competed in the National Hockey League, including Patrice Bergeron, Brad Boyes, Dan Boyle, Brian Campbell, Zdeno Chara, Rick DiPietro, Jiri Hudler, Miikka Kiprusoff, Kari Lehtonen, Ryan Miller, Zach Parise, Martin St. Louis, Jason Spezza, Eric Staal and Tomas Vokoun.