According to sources, the Hershey Bears have hired former Bears assistant head coach Troy Mann as their new head coach, and the 25th coach in their history. Mann was an assistant coach for the Hershey Bears from 2009 to 2013 and served as the head coach of the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL last season. He led the Condors to the playoffs with a 36-30-6 record. Joining him as an assistant coach will be former Hershey Bears captain Bryan Helmer.
An excerpt from the Hershey Bears’ press release:
Mann, a native of Campbellton, New Brunswick, helped turn the season around for the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors in 2013-2014. The Condors advanced six games into the Western Conference finals under Mann’s leadership, the furthest the team has ever played. Bakersfield finished with a regular-season record of 36-30-2-4 under Mann, good for second in the ECHL’s Pacific Division.
Mann’s career in Hershey spanned four years, beginning with the Bears’ record-setting 2009-2010 campaign. The club finished with an AHL-record 60 wins and 34 home wins en route to a second consecutive Calder Cup title. Hershey’s penalty kill thrived under Mann’s watch, as the Bears finished in the AHL’s top ten in all four of his seasons as assistant coach, including a league-best 87.4% in 2009-2010.
Mann has had a hand in developing numerous defensemen who played both in Hershey and in Washington, such as Karl Alzner, Julien Brouillette, John Carlson, Steve Oleksy, Dmitry Orlov, Cameron Schilling and Nate Schmidt. He was also behind the bench for two AHL All-Star Classics (2010, 2011).
Prior to joining Hershey, Mann served as associate head coach of the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers in 2008-2009, and as head coach of the ECHL’s Columbia Inferno from 2006-2008. As a player, Mann won the Kelly Cup championship as a member of the ECHL’s Mississippi Sea Wolves in 1998-1999, playing for former Bears and Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau.
Playing under Mann’s guidance and serving as captain of the Bears’ incredible 2009-2010 season, Helmer returns to Hershey after making his coaching debut as assistant coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. The Petes finished third in the OHL’s East Division under Helmer in 2013-2014, posting a record of 32-30-0-6.
The 41-year-old Helmer, a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, is the American Hockey League’s all-time leader in points by a defenseman. He recorded 564 points (129 goals, 435 assists) in a remarkable 20-year career that totaled 1,117 regular-season games – a number which ranks third in AHL history. Helmer is also the AHL’s all-time leader in Calder Cup playoff appearances, having played in 159 postseason games. He has piled up 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) and celebrated the AHL championship three times (Albany, 1995; Hershey, 2009 and 2010).
Helmer also earned two postseason All-Star Team recognitions during his time in the AHL, and while playing with the Oklahoma City Barons in 2010-2011, he was awarded the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Award as the player who best exemplified the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey.
The Hershey Bears are expected to announce the hiring of Mann and Helmer on Thursday.