07/29/2014 6:56 AM
July 28, 2014
by Pete Wallner – mlive.com
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Veteran Jeff Hoggan is determined to make what could potentially be his final professional season with the Grand Rapids Griffins a success.
Hoggan, 36 and in the final year of his contract, has spent much of the offseason in Grand Rapids, staying in shape, skating at Patterson Ice Arena and looking forward to his 14th pro season and third as the captain of the Griffins.
“I still have that fire,” said Hoggan, who worked with youngsters Monday at Griffins Youth Hockey Camp at Griffs IceHouse. “In the playoffs last year, you’re getting beat up, but every game the adrenaline kicks in and there’s that love of competing.”
In the Griffins’ Calder Cup Trophy season of 2012-13, Hoggan played every game. He had 45 points (20-24-45) in 76 games in the regular season and added another 12 (5-7-12) in 24 playoff games. Last season, Hoggan was limited to 59 games with 31 points (14-17-31) as he battled nagging injuries and also voluntarily sat out numerous games when the team exceeded the veteran-player limit. He played in 10 playoffs games and scored five times (4-1-5).
Hoggan knows the clock is ticking, but the competitor in him also looks to cheat Father Time.
“I know in re-signing for two years last year they were saying, ‘Well, you’re going to be 36, so maybe we’ll just do a one and one,’” he said of contract negotiations. “I said, no I really want that second one.
“I’m kind of out to prove I still can do it. That’s one of the things that keep me going. The fear of it ending is another thing. I want to play as long as I can. Somebody told me that your body will tell you when it’s over. Obviously, your production and performance goes down, that speaks for itself. But I’m still enjoying it and that’s key for me.”
Hoggan is also motivated by how last season ended as the Griffins failed to repeat as champs. The Griffins, among the points leaders in the AHL most of the regular season, were eliminated by Texas in six games in the conference semifinals.
In the offseason, Brennan Evans re-signed with the team, joining returner Nathan Paetsch to form the veteran nucleus with Hoggan. Veteran newcomers are forward Andy Miele and center Kevin Porter, a former teammate of Hoggan’s two seasons in San Antonio.
He also looks forward to seeing more of the young prospects, including Anthony Mantha and Andreas Athanasiou.
“You start to see some of the others guys graduating and moving on and it’s like OK, is the cupboard going to be bare,” Hoggan said. “But the Red Wings do such a good job of drafting and finding new players that you look forward to working with them and do your part to help grow them and encourage them.”
Detroit's training camp opens Sept. 19 in Traverse City.