Originally written on Rock the Red  |  Last updated 7/25/12

ATLANTA - OCTOBER 29: Keith Aucoin #20 of the Washington Capitals against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena on October 29, 2009 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Keith Aucoin has signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ organization on a 2-way contract ($650,000/$350,000), departing the Hershey/Washington clubs after 4 years.  While many will say that he wasn’t a big loss to Washington, he was a huge loss for the Bears.  After spending 2 years a “Bear Killer” with the Albany River Rats – his arrival in Hershey for the 2008-2009 season was incredibly exciting.  He wasn’t always the standout guy on the roster, but he was integral to the success and scoring prowess of guys like Alexandre Giroux and Chris Bourque.

In his 4 years as a Bear, Keith was part of 2 Calder Cup teams, won the League MVP award, and a earned few AHL all star appearances.  His point totals were staggering in the beginning of his Hershey career – as he could thread a pass through almost any AHL offense and racked up the assists.  But even as a veteran, he learned more about the game and grew as a player.  He became more of a goal scoring threat for his last 2 seasons in Hershey, opting to take a shot or go to the net instead of force the pretty pass.

I don’t mean for this come across as a eulogy, but to me it almost is.  Aucoin was a lot of fun to watch night-in and night-out at the Giant Center.  While so many seemed concerned about his size, he never did.  He didn’t back down from taking big hits, and during some less than successful spells in Chocolatetown, you never had to question if #11 was going to “show up” for a game.  He always did.

Best of luck to you in and with Toronto, Keith.  We’ll miss you more than you know down here in Hershey.

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