While the stars of the American League may not be as synonymous with the game as the Gretzkys or the Howes, they deserve to be honored just the same. Local heroes who did it all for their small town teams, the AHL announced Frederic Cassivi, James C. Hendy, Bronco Horvath, and Art Stratton as 2015 Hall of Fame class.
In the modern era, it’s incredibly difficult for a goaltender to earn the continual faith of organizations while never making the jump to the NHL. That’s exactly what Frederic Cassivi did. Cassivi, who played 12 seasons in the AHL, was one of the most successful netminders of his time, with his best season coming during the NHL lockout campaign of 2004-05. In 46 appearances that season, Cassivi posted a 2.07 goals against average and .924 save percentage, helping lead the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks to the Division Finals of the Calder Cup playoffs.
By the end of his career, Cassivi became one of only seven goaltenders in the league’s nearly 70-year history to play over 500 games, he sits fifth all-time in wins with 232, while capturing two Calder Cups (2001-02, Chicago Wolves; 2005-06, Hershey Bears), and a Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as MVP of the postseason.
During the era of legendary NHL GMs like Conn Smythe, Jack Adams, and Frank J. Selke, James C. Hendy became their AHL counterpart. The mind behind the Cleveland Barons, under Hendy’s watch the Barons became the first team to reach the 100-point plateau in the AHL and made the playoffs in each of his 11 campaigns, won four Calder Cups in seven seasons, and was named The Hockey News Executive of the Year twice during.
Tragically, Hendy passed at 54 after suffering a heart attack during his 12th season with the Barons. He was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder, and was awarded the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1970 for his contributions to the game in the United States.
Though he spent six seasons in the NHL and became an all-star twice, Bronco Horvath will always be remembered for his efforts as a member of one of the most dominant stretches in AHL history. From 1964-68, Horvath was part of a Rochester Americans squad that went to four consecutive Calder Cup Finals, walking away with three titles to their names. The feat hasn’t been matched since the Americans accomplished it, and it’s hard to imagine it ever could be.
Over 1,100 games split between the AHL and NHL Horvath tallied 1,073 points, and ranks third in scoring in the storied Amerks history.
As for Art Stratton, he’s spoken about in the same way Darryl Sittler is in NHL lore. Stratton, an elite playmaker of his day, holds the single-game AHL record for points and assists in a game, when he racked up nine assists and nine points in a March 17, 1963 contest between his Buffalo Bison’s 11-2 win over the Pittsburgh Hornets.
Stratton was twice the MVP of the AHL, including the 1973-74 season when he was given the honor at age 37. He holds the record for most seasons leading the league in assists with four and ranks sixth all-time in assists. Stratton would play 95 games in the NHL, and between the two leagues registered 817 points in 764 contests.
All four will be celebrated and inducted during the festivities surrounding the AHL's All-Star Classic with a ceremony being held at Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY on Jan. 26, 2015.