Gernander Earns Ultimate AHL Recognition

Ken Gernander’s too young to be a hall of famer, isn’t he?

Man, the guy’s still the 11th-youngest among the AHL’s 30 head coaches.  And you look at many of the other AHL Hall of Fame members, guys like Johnny Bower, Eddie Shore, Willie Marshall, Les Cunningham, Bun Cook…a lot of times you think hall of fame and you think dusty black-and-white photographs and guys whose playing days were over long before you were ever born.

The truth of it is, though, Gernander is every bit a hall of famer, and his career stacks up pretty well against any of those greats who are already in the Hall of Fame.  His 624 career points still rank in the top 40 all-time among AHL scorers, and he was only recently surpassed as the all-time leading scorer among American-born players, and the all-time leader in playoff games-played.

The one thing I keep coming back to about Ken is marveling at his consistency.  Really, how many individuals are there anywhere in hockey these days who can maintain a presence in the same organization, uninterrupted, for almost two decades, as Gernander has done with the Ranger organization since first coming on board in July of 1994?  Precious few at any level, and virtually none in the AHL.

There was a time, back in the days when the NHL was a six-team circuit and was harder to break into than Fort Knox, that guys built careers with AHL teams, might play 15 years or so in the same city.  Not any more.  As a development league, the AHL is built now on sharpening young players’ skills and sending them to the next level, not shaping minor-pro franchises around them.  Ken is a throwback, to the long-ago days when great players became inextricably identified with the teams they led, when you couldn’t think about the team without thinking about its signature player.  He has never been a guy who was thinking about the quickest way out, the next place where the grass was greener, or about how he had been handed a raw deal and had to move on.  He is the most recently-retired of all the AHL Hall of Fame members, and that’s no accident.  In a sense, he is a bridge from the “classic” era of the Marshalls, the Cunninghams, et al., to today’s game.  A young guy with an old soul, if you will.

As someone who has worked with Ken throughout all but the first year of his long tenure with the Ranger organization, I have always marveled at his dependability, how he would never waver from his determination to do everything, playing, captaining, coaching, all of it, wholeheartedly the right way.  It was always about the group, his teammates, the shared goal—you can’t even get him to talk about himself, that’s not what the game is about.  Just for being able to be a role model that way so consistently for so long would merit him hall of fame consideration in a league like the AHL, that is predicated on change and transition, but he was a pretty fair player too and made his teams better, as those 123 playoff games would attest.  A near .600 winning percentage as a coach isn’t chopped liver either.

Most of all, Ken Gernander has always respected the game and respected the league, maybe the greatest key to his longevity and success.  Now, appropriately, the AHL has conferred its greatest level of respect back on one of the most worthy pillars of its recent history.

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3 Responses to “Gernander Earns Ultimate AHL Recognition”

  1. chris Says:

    this is a guy who deserves it no question. but bob am i right in thinking that ken is the kind of guy who wont take all the credit for getting in himself. isint he humball in that regard

  2. chris Says:

    weather he is the kind of guy who would take all the credit or not. he must be happy about it. it is a great honor after all

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