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GRIFFINS ALUMNI VIE FOR STANLEY CUP


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– Seventeen former Grand Rapids Griffins players will participate in the Stanley Cup Finals, thanks to the Detroit Red Wings’ 2-1 overtime win against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night and their 4-1 series victory in the Western Conference Finals. 

Sixteen of the 31 players on the Red Wings’ current roster have previously played for the Griffins, including forwards Justin Abdelkader, Aaron Downey, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm - who scored tonight's game-winner 3:58 into overtime - Jiri Hudler, Tomas Kopecky, Ville Leino and Darren McCarty; defensemen Chris Chelios, Jonathan Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall, Brett Lebda and Derek Meech; and goaltenders Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood. All except Chelios, Downey, McCarty and Osgood began their North American pro careers in Grand Rapids. 

For the second straight year, Detroit will face the Pittsburgh Penguins for the right to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup, starting with Saturday’s Game 1 at Joe Louis Arena. The Penguins, who swept the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Finals, have one former Griffin on their roster in defenseman Mark Eaton, guaranteeing that at least one Grand Rapids alum will have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

Since 2004, the names of 12 Griffins alumni have been added to the coveted grail, including nine members of the 2008 Red Wings: Filppula, Helm, Hudler, Kopecky, Kronwall, Lebda, McCarty, Meech and Osgood. In addition, Kevyn Adams won the cup with Carolina in 2006, and both Dmitry Afanasenkov and Darren Rumble captured the chalice with Tampa Bay in 2004.

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