10/07/2010 6:46 PM
It All Starts Here: The Griffins will commence their 2010-11 campaign on Friday when they host the Abbotsford Heat at 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena, marking the first time they open the regular season on home ice since 2005. Grand Rapids enters its 15th season overall, its 10th in the AHL, and its ninth as the Detroit Red Wings’ top development club.
Grand Opening: Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, which is expected to mark the Griffins’ 15th consecutive home-opening sellout. Purchase them at griffinshockey.com. Fans will enjoy the first Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs promotion of the season, and the first 7,500 will receive Griffins glow bams, courtesy of Comcast. Jaded 8 will perform live music on the concourse from 6-7 p.m., and the pre-game festivities will include a laser light show and a performance by renowned bucket drummer Peter Rabbit. After the game, 5,000 fans will receive a Griffins 2010-11 Clingz schedule as they exit the arena, and fans can bring their skates and take to the ice for the Post-Game Open Skate. For complete promotional details, click here.
For Starters: Grand Rapids is 10-2-2-0 all time in season openers, having earned points in seven straight debuts (5-0-2-0). The Griffins, who are 9-5 all time in home openers, won their first game at Van Andel Arena in both 2009 and 2008 under coach Curt Fraser. This Sunday in Rockford, they will attempt to earn at least one point in their road opener for a remarkable 12th consecutive campaign (9-0-2-0) and add to their impressive overall mark of 10-2-2-0 in their first road game.
At the Helm: Griffins general manager Bob McNamara begins his 15th season with the club…Curt Fraser starts his third campaign as head coach, showing a mark of 77-64-9-10 as Grand Rapids’ bench boss. Signed to a new two-year contract in August, Fraser ranks first among active AHL coaches in NHL head-coaching experience with 279 games, and he is the only current AHL bench boss to have over 200 games of NHL experience as both a head coach and a player on his resume. Currently fifth all time among Griffins head coaches in both regular season games coached (160) and regular season wins (77), Fraser is set to surpass leader Danton Cole’s 208 games coached in the 49th game of the 2010-11 season, while a 40-win campaign would enable him to eclipse Cole’s 116 career victories for the most in franchise history…The longest-tenured coach in franchise history, Jim Paek returns for his sixth season as the Griffins’ assistant coach.
NHL Alumni: The NHL’s season-opening rosters contain the names of 24 former Griffins, who are playing for 13 of the league’s 30 teams: Anaheim (Sheldon Brookbank), Buffalo (Patrick Lalime), Chicago (Tomas Kopecky), Colorado (Kyle Quincey), Detroit (Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard, Jiri Hudler, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall and Chris Osgood), Florida (Mark Cullen-IR), Los Angeles (Scott Parse-IR), New York Islanders (Mark Eaton), New York Rangers (Sean Avery and Todd White), Ottawa (Chris Kelly, Chris Neil and Jason Spezza), Philadelphia (Ville Leino), Tampa Bay (Mattias Ritola) and Toronto (Brett Lebda-IR).
Signed and Sealed: Only two players on the current roster are under contract to the Griffins: defenseman Greg Amadio and right wing Kyle Rogers (PTO).
We’re Getting the Band Back Together!: Three “newcomers” to the Griffins’ roster played significant roles for Grand Rapids’ 2005-06 squad that won the AHL’s regular season title. Defenseman Derek Meech contributed 20 points (4-16—20) in 79 games, fellow blueliner Greg Amadio had 140 penalty minutes to go with three assists in 64 appearances, and goaltender Joey MacDonald posted a 17-9-2 mark with two shutouts, a 3.13 GAA and an 0.897 save percentage in 32 games.
Fresh Faces: Ten members of the Griffins’ season-opening roster skated elsewhere in 2009-10. Here’s a brief look at each of the new arrivals:
• Greg Amadio – A member of the Griffins from 2004-06, he helped Grand Rapids claim the AHL’s regular season crown in 2005-06 then won consecutive Calder Cups with the Hershey Bears the last two seasons;
Welcome Back: Fifteen players from the Griffins’ 2009-10 edition are on their season-opening roster: goaltenders Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce; defensemen Travis Ehrhardt, Doug Janik, Sergei Kolosov, Brian Lashoff, Sebastien Piche and Logan Pyett; and forwards Willie Coetzee, Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak, Jordan Owens, Francis Pare, Jamie Tardif and Tomas Tatar.
Oh Captain, My Captain: For the second straight season, Jamie Tardif has been named the Griffins’ captain. Greg Amadio, Doug Janik and Derek Meech will serve as alternate captains.
Tell Me What It Takes: Several players and coaches for the Griffins have won major championships in North America at the pro, college or major junior level. Derek Meech won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008, along with a Memorial Cup with Red Deer in 2001. Chris Minard served as a “black ace” with Pittsburgh during its Cup run in 2009 and claimed the ECHL’s Kelly Cup with Alaska in 2006. Greg Amadio won back-to-back Calder Cups with Hershey the last two seasons to go with his CHL President’s Cup with Memphis in 2003. Other cup winners include assistant coach Jim Paek (Stanley Cup – 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh, IHL Turner Cup – 1989 Muskegon and 1999 Houston) and Doug Janik (NCAA – 1999 Maine). In addition, Ilari Filppula was named the Finnish Elite League’s playoff MVP last season after leading TPS Turku to the title, while both Brian Lashoff (U.S. in 2010) and Logan Pyett (Canada in 2008) won the World Junior Championship.
Do You Feel a Draft?: Eleven of the Griffins’ 25 players were once selected in the NHL Entry Draft, including nine who were tabbed by the Red Wings. Brendan Smith (27th overall by Detroit in 2007) and Thomas McCollum (30th overall by Detroit in 2008) were both chosen in the first round, while Derek Meech was taken by the Red Wings’ with the 229th pick in 2002. For just the second time in their nine seasons as the Wings’ affiliate, the Griffins have a pair of first-round Detroit draft picks on their roster (2009-10: McCollum and Jakub Kindl).
NHL Experience: Four Griffins have combined to play 412 regular season games in the NHL, including 73 last season: Doug Janik (174/13), Derek Meech (126/49), Joey MacDonald (72/6) and Chris Minard (40/5).
Veteran Roll Call: AHL clubs may dress up to five veteran skaters with more than 260 games of experience in the NHL, AHL or European Elite leagues, plus another with 320 or fewer games played. The Griffins currently have six veterans in Greg Amadio, Ilari Filppula, Doug Janik, Jamie Johnson, Derek Meech and Chris Minard.
Newbies: Five players on Grand Rapids’ roster are classified as AHL rookies: defensemen Brian Lashoff, Sebastien Piche and Brendan Smith, and forwards Willie Coetzee and Brent Raedeke.
One For the Ages: The average age of the Griffins is 24 years and three months, two months younger than the average for their 2009-10 opening roster. Doug Janik and Joey MacDonald are the oldest players at 30 years each, while five have yet to reach their 21st birthdays: Tomas Tatar (19), Willie Coetzee (19), Brian Lashoff (20), Brent Raedeke (20) and Thomas McCollum (20).
Where Are They Now?: Fourteen of the 27 players from the Griffins’ 2009-10 season-ending roster now find themselves in other locales, including Detroit (Justin Abdelkader and Jakub Kindl), Tampa Bay (Mattias Ritola), AHL Chicago (Patrick Rissmiller), Hartford (Jeremy Williams and Brandon Wong), Sweden (Daniel Larsson/HV-71 and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen/MoDo), Italy (John Vigilante/Asiago), and WHL Everett (Landon Ferraro). In addition, Paul Crosty, Brad May and Ryan Oulahen have retired, while Riley Armstrong’s whereabouts are unknown.
Griffins’ Coaching Cradle: Five former players or coaches for the Griffins are currently involved in hockey operations with other AHL squads, including Peoria head coach Jared Bednar (1998-99), Providence assistant coach Bruce Cassidy (HC 2000-02), Toronto assistant coach Derek King (1999-01, P/AC 2002-04), Oklahoma City head coach Todd Nelson (1996-98, 1999-00, 2001-02, AC 2002-03), and Lake Erie general manager David Oliver (2000-01).
Fri., Oct. 8 vs. Abbotsford Heat – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Sun., Oct. 10 at Rockford IceHogs – Rockford MetroCentre – 5:05 p.m.
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