The Hamilton Bulldogs, with their exit on May 26 in Game 7 of the Calder Cup semi-final, finished their 14th American Hockey League season winning 63 of 99 games. During the regular season campaign, the ’Dogs broke 31 franchise records, tied six club marks and broke one AHL record. In the post-season Hamilton broke 12 franchise records and tied another 11.
Hamilton finished the 2009-10 regular season with the second best record in the AHL – 52-17-3-8 – and won the Sam Pollock Trophy as North Division champions and the Norman R. Poile Trophy as the Western Conference champions.
David Desharnais led the team in points with 78 (27 goals, 51 assists) while rookie defenceman P.K. Subban topped all Bulldogs’ defenders, and tied for third in the AHL, among rookies in points with 53 (18 goals, 35 assists).
In goal, Cedrick Desjardins led the AHL with a 2.00 goals-against-average and also recorded six shutouts and a 0.919 save percentage to hold a record of 29-9-4 while Curtis Sanford ranked third in the league with a 2.13 goals-against-average and posted four shutouts and a 0.916 save percentage to hold a 23-11-3 record.
The Bulldogs had 17 players dress for Hamilton and its National Hockey League affiliate, the Montreal Canadiens in 2009-10, the most of any AHL team and its NHL affiliate. Thirteen Bulldogs graduates also helped the Canadiens reach the Eastern Conference finals in this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Bulldogs began the season with a franchise record 11-game point streak, setting the tone for the record breaking season to follow. Hamilton set the club record for most wins in a regular season as the ‘Dogs earned 52 wins and also set the franchise record for points in a regular season as they recorded 115. The ‘Dogs were also the best road team in the AHL, breaking the AHL record for most points earned on the road in one season when the club posted 60 points away from Copps Coliseum. The Bulldogs also set franchise records for wins on the road with 27 and goals scored on the road with 142.
Individually the Bulldogs set a number of records. Mid-way through the season, Desjardins set a franchise record for the longest streak of not allowing a goal when he played 212 minutes and 37 seconds of shutout play from Nov. 25 until Dec. 9. The club also set a franchise record for the team’s shutout streak as the ‘Dogs were not scored on for 207 minutes and 21 seconds from Nov. 25h until Dec. 5. The Bulldogs recorded 12 shutouts this year, tying the franchise mark set by the 2002-03 team while Desjardins earned six shutouts which tied Jaroslav Halak for most shutouts in one season by a Bulldog. Desjardins also set a new franchise record for most wins by a goalie in one season with 27.
In 2009-10, Andre Benoit became the all-time leader in points by a Bulldogs defenceman with 93 and goals by a ‘Dogs defenceman with 23. Subban’s 18 goals, 53 points and 11 power-play goals are all franchise records in a single season. Subban’s plus/minus rating of plus-46 set a franchise record by a Bulldogs player. Desharnais’ 78 points are also a franchise mark for most points in a season.
The ‘Dogs players also earned a number of awards. Desjardins and Subban were both named to the Canadian team at the AHL All-Star Classic in January. At the conclusion of the regular season, Subban was named an AHL First-Team All-Star and to the AHL All-Rookie Team while Desjardins was named an AHL Second-Team All-Star.
Head coach Guy Boucher was awarded the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach in his rookie season with the Bulldogs while Desjardins and Sanford received the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award which is given to the goaltenders on the team which allows the fewest goals in the regular season.
Following the regular season, the ‘Dogs enjoyed a deep playoff run which concluded in Game 7 of the 2010 Calder Cup Western Conference Finals where they were defeated by the Texas Stars. Prior to meeting the Stars, Hamilton defeated the Manitoba Moose in six games in the North Division Semi-Finals series before becoming the North Division Playoff Champions by defeating the Abbotsford Heat in six games.
Desharnais once again led the Bulldogs in points as he earned 23 (10 goals, 13 assists) to set a new franchise record for most points in one post-season. In their second game of the playoffs, Hamilton defeated Manitoba 8-2, tying the franchise record for most goals scored in a post-season game and setting the club record for largest margin of victory in a playoff game. Benoit (five goals, 22 assists) and Desharnais (11 goals, 16 assists) became the franchise leaders in all-time post-season points with 27 while Benoit’s 22 assists also make him the franchise leader in all-time post-season assists.