Former Grand Rapids Griffins defensemen Bryan Helmer (2004-06) and Travis Richards (1996-2006) are headed to the Hall of Fame for their respective careers.
Helmer, the first former Griffin to enter the AHL Hall of Fame, was named to the American Hockey League’s Hall of Fame Class of 2017 that will be honored January 30, 2017 at the 2017 Capital BlueCross AHL All-Star Classic in Allentown, PA.
Undrafted, Helmer played more games and recorded more assists and points than any defenseman in AHL history. A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, he made his pro debut in 1993 with the Albany River Rats in 1993, helping the club to a Calder Cup championship in 1995. He joined the Griffins in 2004 and helped earn the AHL’s 2005-06 regular season championship. In 160 games with Grand Rapids, Helmer scored 81 points (19-62—81) and registered 202 penalty minutes.
Known as “Mr. Griffin”, Richards will be inducted into the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids on October 20, 2016. He played more games and seasons in Grand Rapids than any other professional athlete in the city’s history over his 10-year career in Beer City.
Born in Crystal, Minn., Richards became the second player and first American to sign with the Griffins on July 26, 1996, and he remains Grand Rapids’ all-time leader with 655 games played. In addition to his games-played primacy, Richards still ranks among the Griffins’ regular season career leaders with a plus-131 rating (1st), 182 assists (2nd), 238 points (2nd), 995 shots (2nd), 24 power play goals (5th) and 502 PIM (6th).
Richards, the University of Minnesota graduate, played nearly his entire pro career in West Michigan, making his pro debut with the IHL’s Kalamazoo Wings in the 1993-94 season.
Last fall, both Helmer and Richards were recognized as two of the 20 most significant players in franchise history, named the “Grandest Griffins”. Richards (2003-04) and Helmer (2005-06) each earned the additional honor of being named the Griffins’ AHL Man of the Year.
Tickets to the induction ceremony can be found here.