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HITTING THE ICE

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Following five seasons in which they comprised the most successful partnership in hockey, the Grand Rapids Griffins and Detroit Red Wings will begin a new five-year affiliation agreement with this Friday’s start of Red Wings training camp at Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City, Mich.

Since their affiliation began in 2002, the Griffins and Red Wings have combined for 944 standings points, more than any other AHL/NHL pairing. In 2005-06 each team finished atop its league standings, becoming the first AHL/NHL affiliates in 29 years to capture their respective regular season championships.

Over the last five seasons, 25 members of the Griffins have gone on to play for the Red Wings. Fans in Grand Rapids have also had the opportunity to watch current and former Detroit stars such as Curtis Joseph, Chris Osgood and Manny Legace perform at Van Andel Arena during conditioning assignments.

Fifteen players who skated for the Griffins’ 2006-07 squad are expected to be on hand for the start of Red Wings camp, including goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Dominic Vicari; defensemen Jonathan Ericsson, Jon Insana, Jakub Kindl, Cleve Kinley, Derek Meech and Kyle Quincey; and forwards Matt Ellis, Cory Emmerton, Valtteri Filppula, Adam Keefe, Evan McGrath, Jan Mursak and Ryan Oulahen.GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Following five seasons in which they comprised the most successful partnership in hockey, the Grand Rapids Griffins and Detroit Red Wings will begin a new five-year affiliation agreement with this Friday’s start of Red Wings training camp at Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City, Mich.

Since their affiliation began in 2002, the Griffins and Red Wings have combined for 944 standings points, more than any other AHL/NHL pairing. In 2005-06 each team finished atop its league standings, becoming the first AHL/NHL affiliates in 29 years to capture their respective regular season championships.
 
Over the last five seasons, 25 members of the Griffins have gone on to play for the Red Wings. Fans in Grand Rapids have also had the opportunity to watch current and former Detroit stars such as Curtis Joseph, Chris Osgood and Manny Legace perform at Van Andel Arena during conditioning assignments.

Fifteen players who skated for the Griffins’ 2006-07 squad are expected to be on hand for the start of Red Wings camp, including goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Dominic Vicari; defensemen Jonathan Ericsson, Jon Insana, Jakub Kindl, Cleve Kinley, Derek Meech and Kyle Quincey; and forwards Matt Ellis, Cory Emmerton, Valtteri Filppula, Adam Keefe, Evan McGrath, Jan Mursak and Ryan Oulahen.

Also participating in camp will be former Griffins/current Red Wings Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky, Brett Lebda and Niklas Kronwall, as well as several players who could spend time with Grand Rapids this season, including goaltender Adam Berkhoel; defensemen Brad Ference and Garrett Stafford; and forwards Carl Corazzini, Mark Cullen, Brett Engelhardt, Randall Gelech, Mark Hartigan, Darren Helm, Mattias Ritola and Johan Ryno.

Griffins head coach Mike Stothers and assistant coach Jim Paek will assist the Red Wings’ coaching staff throughout the camp, which concludes next Tuesday, Sept. 18.

The camp schedule for Friday through Sunday calls for three player groups to practice separately at 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., with two of those groups scrimmaging at 11:15 a.m. Monday will feature a Red & White Game at 6:30 p.m., and Tuesday marks the beginning of the Red Wings’ preseason slate with an 8 p.m. EDT game at Minnesota.

The Wings will return to Van Andel Arena for the first time in four years next Wednesday, Sept. 19, when the Griffins host “Wings for Lunch,” presented by the West Michigan Chrysler Jeep Dealers.
 
The event will begin at noon with a 75-minute Red Wings practice, followed at 1:45 p.m. by a 75-minute Griffins practice. All healthy Detroit-contracted players are scheduled to practice, with those from the first practice participating in a 45-minute autograph session with fans beginning at 2:15 p.m. During the intermission between the practices, the Griffins will introduce their new Rbk EDGE game sweaters in an on-ice ceremony, unveiling their first updated jersey design in five years.

Ticket packages that include admission to “Wings for Lunch” are still available by calling the Griffins office at (616) 774-4585.

For the first time in franchise history, the Griffins will neither hold a training camp in Grand Rapids nor play any preseason games. Instead, they will conduct their camp at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena, skating immediately prior to the Red Wings’ practices each day. The dates and itinerary for the late-September camp will be released next week.

After opening the 2007-08 regular season on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Cleveland and playing their first three games on the road, the Griffins will make their Van Andel Arena debut on Saturday, Oct. 20 against the Rockford IceHogs at 7 p.m. Group tickets for all home games, along with full season, 20-game, 10-game and five-game ticket packages, are currently available by calling the Griffins at (616) 774-4585.


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