I’m not a fan of reporting on every bit of news that relates to former Barons player signings (because others do it better), but sometimes I make exceptions. Like when former captain, and champion of many in Oklahoma City signs with another team. Known for yeoman like play, leadership qualities both on and off the ice, and a catalog of points that sits high atop the all-time scoring list in the AHL. He’s a players player, a coaches player, a fans player – he’s a rare breed. And today, the Springfield Falcons (whom are having a really really good season) plucked him from obscurity to beef up their defensive core, in what will be Bryan’s 20th season of play.
Why didn’t the Barons re-sign this guy? Simply put, there wasn’t room with a lockout pending. And for Helmer, the option to play elsewhere other than the AHL just wasn’t an option he’d like to explore. Or perhaps Oklahoma City indeed offered him something, and Bryan turned it down. Either way, he would have been useful in OKC, and will probably be equally as useful in Springfield.
He’s a guy that certainly would have squeezed into a void left by Justin Schultz in Oklahoma City while also adding some grizzly veteran leadership. There’s no chance that he would have scored at the pace of Schultz, but he’s a decent quarterback on the power play and that might be a need moving forward. As it stands right now, I think that falls to Nathan Deck or Martin Marincin or Taylor Fedun, all whom are very young and perhaps prone to a regression in the spotlight. But outside of Marincin, Fedun and Deck have shown that they can get things done nicely.
And then there’s the leadership. The original intent with Helmer, in the eyes of Bill Scott and Todd Nelson, was to give the team a plumb line. A guy that could be a calming influence in all aspects of the hockey operations. A centering personality, if you will. He did that, he’s gone, and seemingly the Barons could have used that right now. (But Josh Green seems poised to handle that role nicely)
Do I wish that Bryan Helmer was a Baron in 2012-2013? I think so. Do I think the Barons still try to lock in on a guy similar to him in the free agent market? You bet.
Nonetheless, congratulations to Bryan Helmer on his new assignment. You’re a champ.