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10/16/2015 12:05 AM -

Todd Nelson, the first player ever signed by the Griffins, wants to build a culture that encourages players to put the team ahead of individual accomplishments.

Todd Nelson had officially been named the 10th head coach in Griffins history for less than two hours this summer when he was asked if there was any slogan he planned to endorse in the Grand Rapids locker room when he returned this fall.
“We Not Me,” he said almost reflexively, reacting as though he were poke-checking the question like the seasoned defensemen he once was. “It’s simple but it says it all in terms of team philosophy.”
As the first-ever player signed by the Griffins before the team’s inaugural 1996-97 season, Nelson was a consummate team guy, a blue-collar defenseman who was dedicated, disciplined and dependable. He was the ultimate “D” man.
Indeed, many felt that Nelson, having distinguished himself as one of the game’s top young coaches, was the perfect choice to succeed Jeff Blashill, who replaced Mike Babcock as the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings after serving three years at the helm of the Griffins.
“I know I have big shoes to fill in following Jeff, but I’m very confident going forward,” Nelson said. “I’m here to do a great job for the organization. I want to piggyback on the great job that Jeff did in Grand Rapids.”


10/16/2015 12:04 AM -

Jeff Blashill hopes to put his time with the Griffins to good use in Detroit.

When Detroit general manager Ken Holland introduced Griffins coach Jeff Blashill as the 27th head coach in Red Wings history on June 9, 2015, Blashill proclaimed that he felt fortunate to land “one of the most coveted jobs in the National Hockey League.”
As a Motor City native who grew up in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., as a diehard Red Wings fan after his father had been a Detroit cop for 10 years, Blashill was grateful to be given the opportunity to guide the only Original Six team that he ever followed.
“It’s a neat thing to become the head coach of an organization that was a big part of your life growing up,” Blashill said. “That’s pretty cool.”
Blashill came to Grand Rapids before the 2012-13 season following one year as an assistant for head coach Mike Babcock in Detroit. The Griffins, who made the playoffs all three seasons under Blashill after missing the postseason the prior three, won the 2013 Calder Cup under his guidance. Moreover, Grand Rapids’ 50 playoff games played during his tenure set an AHL record for the most ever by a team during a three-year span.
Several teams inquired about securing Blashill’s services after that championship, but the young coach opted to stay put as the heir apparent to Babcock.


10/16/2015 12:03 AM -

Twelve different captains have led the Griffins during the organization’s first 20 years.
This season will be Jeff Hoggan’s fourth as the captain of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the longest tenure in the 20-year history of the organization, but he shares many of the characteristics that have distinguished the 11 men who came before him.
“Hoggie is an outstanding captain, mostly because of his character,” said new Detroit Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill, who counted on the leadership of the veteran forward for all three of his seasons behind the bench in Grand Rapids.
“Hoggie is an unbelievable example of someone who has great work ethic, who has great attention to detail, who is always selfless, and I think he really helped accelerate the growth of our hockey team every year. When you have a leader like Hoggie, you have no choice but to follow.”
To be a leader, one must have others who are willing to follow, and there is no greater responsibility in hockey than being the team captain and convincing guys with different personalities, different backgrounds and different skills to sacrifice themselves for the good of the unit.
Hoggan, of course, led the Griffins to their only Calder Cup championship in 2013, but he was following the same philosophy and moral code that has driven every team captain, starting with Don McSween, who served as the club’s first captain during the inaugural season in 1996-97.


10/16/2015 12:02 AM -

Tyler Bertuzzi is thrilled to be playing professional hockey, but you can bet he won’t sleep until he reaches the next level by earning a job with the Detroit Red Wings.

Tyler Bertuzzi is loving every minute. His grin is as wide as McCharles Lake is long.
There are 330 lakes within the city limits of his hometown, Greater Sudbury in northern Ontario, but there is only one – McCharles Lake, where his family still lives – that gave birth to Bertuzzi’s dream of someday playing professional hockey.
As an avid fisherman, Bertuzzi has spent countless hours on the lake, fishing for bass. But it’s the countless hours skating, stickhandling around real and imaginary defenders, and firing thousands of pucks into the net that have made all the difference in overcoming the odds and making his dream a reality.
Now in his first full season in Grand Rapids, he is looking to build his resume in hopes of someday earning a job in Detroit, where his uncle Todd Bertuzzi toiled for the better part of six seasons late in his career after he had established himself as one of the game’s top power forwards.
It’s been Tyler’s dream for as long as he can remember.


10/16/2015 12:01 AM -

As Part 1 of a season-long series celebrating the organization’s 20th anniversary, Griffiti caught up with a hat trick of former Griffins now making their marks in other professions.

April 01, 2015 12:04 AM

April 01, 2015 12:03 AM

April 01, 2015 12:02 AM

April 01, 2015 12:01 AM

February 06, 2015 4:02 PM

February 06, 2015 3:54 PM

February 06, 2015 3:48 PM

February 06, 2015 3:42 PM

December 19, 2014 12:04 AM

December 19, 2014 12:03 AM

December 19, 2014 12:02 AM

December 19, 2014 12:01 AM

October 10, 2014 1:15 AM

October 10, 2014 1:07 AM

October 10, 2014 1:03 AM

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