The American Hockey League announced today that left wing Cory Conacher of the Norfolk Admirals has been named the winner of the Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player for the 2011-12 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities.
Conacher, who scored seven points (5g-2a) in three games with the Cinicnnati Cyclones in 2010-11, becomes the fourth rookie to win the award since it was first presented in 1947-48, joining Bill Hicke (1958-59), Pelle Lindbergh (1980-81) and Stephan Lebeau (1988-89).
Conacher ranks second in the entire AHL with 35 goals and 75 points, tied for second with 14 power-play goals and tied for third with seven game-winning tallies for league-leading Norfolk heading into the final weekend of the regular season. He has recorded a point in 51 of his 72 games played, with the Admirals showing a 40-11-0-0 record in those contests, and has a plus/minus rating of plus-13 along with 110 penalty minutes for the year. The 22-year-old native of Burlington, Ont., represented Norfolk at the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic (where he tallied 2-1-3 in the All-Star Game) and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team and AHL Second All-Star Team for 2011-12.
Undrafted out of Canisius College, Conacher signed an AHL contract with Norfolk following training camp and inked a two-year NHL deal with Tampa Bay on March 1.
Conacher is the sixth ECHL alum to win the AHL’s Most Valuable Player award, joining Keith Aucion (2009-10), Jason LaBarbera (2003-04), Eric Boguniecki (2001-02), Martin Brochu (1999-00) and Brad Smyth (1995-96).
There are 37 coaches with an ECHL background working behind the benches of teams in the American Hockey League in 2011-12, including 15 of the league’s 30 head coaches.
Former ECHL broadcasters working in the AHL include Brendan Burke of the Peoria Rivermen, Josh Fisher of the Texas Stars, Josh Heller of the Albany Devils, Mike Kelly of the Springfield Falcons, Eric Lindquist of the Worcester Sharks, Jason Lockhart of the Syracuse Crunch, Pete Michaud of the Norfolk Admirals, Joe O’Donnell of the Houston Aeros, Doug Plagens of the Lake Erie Monsters, Bob Rotruck of the Adirondack Phantoms, Jason Shaver of the Chicago Wolves, Jason Shaya of the Charlotte Checkers, Dan Weiss of the San Antonio Rampage and Grady Whittenburg of the Binghamton Senators.