Written by Don Scott
On Jan. 31 in an 11 a.m. ceremony at the Hershey Theatre, Mitch Lamoureux will be inducted into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame. The induction will bring the number of AHL Hall of Fame members to 26, eight of whom have ties to the Hershey Bears.
“Making the Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of my career,” Lamoureux recently said. “It is such an honor, especially to go in as a Hershey Bear because I bleed chocolate brown.”
Lamoureux’s number 16 jersey, which was also worn by the AHL’s all-time leading scorer Willie Marshall, has been retired. Lamoureux said it was considers an honor and a privilege to share.
One of Marshall ’s records that Lamoureux thought he might have had a shot at surpassing – if he hadn’t been injured and played several seasons in Europe and the IHL – was games played.
“I played 802 games and Willie 1,205, so I might have come close with those additional years in the AHL, but then I might not have been in Hershey as long,” said Lamoureux. “I made the NHL (73 games) and had the opportunity to play and make a fine living in the AHL so I wouldn’t change anything.
“I competed for my teammates and hated to lose,” Lamoureux continued. “I feel that was a reason I had success in hockey and in life. I’m more laid back now and just enjoy going to watch the current Bears. I’ve been living in Lebanon County since 1986 and Palmyra since 1991, so this is home for me.”
For Lamoureux, his induction caps a 17-year career, one that started with the Baltimore Skipjacks in 1982-83 when he was the AHL’s Rookie of the Year and that concluded with Hershey after the 1998-99 campaign. That rookie season saw him set the league records for goals by a rookie – 57 – and points – 105.
“When I came to Hershey from Baltimore the fans weren’t very warm toward me but over time I won them over,” Lamoureux said with his ever present grin. “I wasn’t a big fan of the building at the time because it was a dark, old building and the Bears were always tough to play against.”
The fan appreciation began in Lamouruex’s first of three stints with the Bears, when he was signed as a free agent by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1986.
“I was here a couple years, went to Europe then came back again,” said Lamoureux. “After that I spent time in Europe, Maine and San Diego (IHL) before being in Hershey a couple years. I got traded to Providence (‘95-97), kind of retired but came back to Hershey (‘97-98) then retired for good after the next season.”
It was during that first stop in Chocolatetown that Lamoureux became part of hockey history when the 1988 Bears became the first AHL team to win the Calder Cup in 12 straight games.
“As far as I’m concerned, that was the best AHL team ever,” he stated. “I know some people will think differently based on what last year’s team did, which they should because they had a very good team. It would be nice if they could do one of those Xbox or Nintendo things and put our team against last year’s, because I think we would take them.”
The 1998-99 winner of the Fred Hunt Award for sportsmanship, Lamoureux is seventh all-time in AHL goals (364) and ninth in points (816).