The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Captain Keith moves on

Had a chance today to chat with former River Rats captain/top scorer/inspirational leader/guy who should have been 2007 AHL MVP Keith Aucoin about his new contract.

Aucoin, 29, signed a two-year deal with Washington July 2. The first year is a two-way deal, meaning he gets paid more in the NHL than AHL. The second year is a one-way deal for 2009-10, the first of Aucoin's eight-year career.

"I'm glad to get it out of the way early," he said today. "I wish I was coming back, but it's a good organization I'm going to and it should be a lot of fun."

Aucoin played his last game in a Rats uniform on Feb. 2, going scoreless in a 5-2 loss at Hershey, Washington's parent team. On Feb. 1, Aucoin matched an Albany single-game scoring record for assists and points with five in a 5-2 win over Syracuse.

I won't get into all the stats and honors -- you can read that in Tuesday's paper -- but in my mind, Aucoin had the biggest single impact in the shortest time of any Rats player. There are the Sullivans and Brules and Helmers and Kinnears, but they had a supporting cast that was second to none.

Zach Parise was one of my all-time Albany favorites, and his one season here was altogether memorable, but he alone couldn't lead the Rats to the playoffs, something Aucoin was instrumental in accomplishing in 2007, ending an AHL-record six-year drought. For that, he gets the edge.

As a card-carrying member of the Vertically Challenged, I am always happy to see the little guys be successful. Aucoin is the ultimate example of what talent and desire, put together, can do.

"I enjoyed playing in Albany when I was there," Aucoin said. "The fans treated me great, and I think the team really put hockey back on the map the last couple years. It's been a lot of fun to be a part of that and get that atmosphere back in the arena."

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