When it comes to Oklahoma City Barons’ defenseman Bryan Helmer and winning, it is a ‘been there, done that’ story. Over the course of his long professional hockey career, Helmer has been around winning cultures. Having won three Calder Cups on the AHL level, he knows how to be involved with winner. He now has an opportunity to continue that legacy with a young Barons squad.
"I’m real excited," Helmer said. "Especially this year when I have a contract at the start of the year… The things that happened last year… I’m just excited to get back playing. I’m excited about our team. I’ve talked to (head coach) Todd (Nelson) about the team, it’s going to be a younger team but I think we’re going to be competitive."
Helmer is entering this season with more certainty than last year. During the offseason prior to the Barons’ inaugural season, Helmer didn’t know where he’d be playing or if he’d be playing.
"It’s definitely a lot less stress. Going into a season, knowing where you’re going to be and you know the personnel and you know the players. It’s definitely going to be more comfortable."
Going into his second season in Oklahoma City, Helmer has seen the future of the Barons and the Edmonton organizations in young, highly-touted prospects like Colten Teubert
, Hunter Tremblay
and Mark Arcobello
"They’re exciting to watch," Helmer said. "You look at a guy like (Colten) Teubert, that’s big and strong and has got a good shot and who’s not afraid to mix things up. Then you look at a guy like (Mark) Arcobello, who makes plays you don’t expect him to make and you’ve got a guy like (Hunter) Tremblay who came last year toward the end (of the season) and played really well for us in the playoffs. He gave us that little spark and he can score goals. Those three guys right there themselves are going to be big pluses for our team. "
Bryan Helmer scored 6 goals, 25 points & was a counted-upon leader for the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons during the 2010-11 season (Photo by Steven Christy Photography).
"I think they’re really good players. They’re young, but they don’t play like they’re young. They all play with a lot of confidence and they’ve got a lot of skill. "
Helmer, having played professional hockey for over 18 years, knows a thing or two about being a professional. His advice to the aforementioned young players is simple.
"Stay patient, work hard in practice and keep a positive outlook toward things."
Helmer says a lot of times, young players come into the pros thinking they deserve a certain amount of playtime. They feel entitled to things that Helmer says are earned.
"You have to prove yourself."
The Barons are fresh off a playoff berth in their first American Hockey League season. Helmer was a big part of that accomplishment. In order to keep the momentum going into the 2011-2012 season, Helmer says it is imperative that the team bonds and has fun.
"If you’re not having fun, you don’t play well. The teams that I’ve been on, that we’ve won championships, we enjoyed coming to the rink, we enjoyed being around one another and it shows on the ice."
With the Barons trending toward a more youthful roster, Helmer says that could work in OKC’s favor.
"With young guys, you can sort of push them a little more."
"If we can push those young guys, and get them to push us, we should be alright. I think we should be up towards the top (of the league)."
On a personal level, where Helmer feels he can improve the most from last year, is consistency and loosening up a little.
"Just enjoy myself, have fun with the guys."
While Helmer patiently waits for the start of training camp (September), he has been spending time with his family and has the Edmonton Oilers’ organization to thank for a great summer.
"We went to Disneyland, compliments of Edmonton. It was good. It was a lot of fun. It was four nights, five days. It was great. The kids loved it, (my wife and I) loved it too. It was a lot of fun. It was probably one of the nicest things that an organization ever did for me in my hockey career. It was really nice that they did something like that and we definitely enjoyed ourselves."
With the talent coming in under the guidance of a veteran like Helmer, the 2011-2012 Barons will be looking to have some fun of their own, and the winning should follow.Author: Chris Wescott | OKCBarons.com