GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.
– One has been an iconic Michigan landmark since 1957; the other, a goaltending standout in the state since 2002. Now, these two institutions have come together in a new mask worn by Grand Rapids Griffins goalie Joey MacDonald
that prominently features the Mackinac Bridge and the pair’s shared nickname, “Mighty Mac.”
The brainchild of MacDonald and Griffins equipment manager Brad “Dogg” Thompson
, the design showcases a painting of the bridge atop the mask, beneath the “Mighty Mac” moniker. The sides of MacDonald’s mask feature the Detroit skyline and a depiction of Chris Osgood’s mask – honoring his former teammate’s 401 career wins – while the back displays the names of MacDonald’s two children, Camden and Kendall.
MacDonald, who has been sidelined with a concussion since Nov. 5, is expected to return to the Griffins’ lineup and debut his new mask this weekend during the team’s three-game road trip to Milwaukee (Friday at 8 p.m. EST), Rockford (Saturday at 8:05 p.m. EST) and Chicago (Sunday at 4 p.m. EST).
“I’ve spent so much time in Michigan, so instead of focusing on just Detroit or the Red Wings for this mask’s design, I thought I would do something that involved the whole state. I think it turned out pretty well,” said MacDonald, a native of Pictou, Nova Scotia. “The Mackinac Bridge reminds me of some long bridges that we have back home, and I think it’s a nice little tribute to Michigan. This is a great place to live.”
An 11-year pro, MacDonald has spent all or part of seven seasons with Michigan’s preeminent hockey teams, the Red Wings and Griffins, Detroit’s American Hockey League affiliate. He played four full campaigns in Grand Rapids from 2002-06 before returning to the team last season, and he ranks as the Griffins’ all-time leader with 103 wins, 19 shutouts, 193 goalie games played, 10,871 minutes played and 4,946 saves. This season, MacDonald has posted a 5-4 record in nine appearances and ranks among the AHL’s elite netminders with a 2.17 goals against average (T6th), a 0.930 save percentage (5th) and two shutouts (T4th).
MacDonald, 31, made his NHL debut with the Red Wings in 2006 and has played 23 games with the club during his career. Last season, he saw action in 15 games with Detroit, leading the Wings with a 2.58 GAA and a 0.917 save percentage while posting a 5-5-3 record and one shutout. MacDonald has totaled 87 NHL games over five seasons with Detroit, Boston, Toronto and the New York Islanders, showing a 23-43-12 record with a 3.19 GAA and two shutouts.
For Thompson, his inspiration came from memories of childhood visits to the Mackinac region. “I wanted to tie in something with Michigan, and I thought of my childhood and growing up and spending time up in Mackinac with my grandpa and my mom, walking the bridge on Labor Day,” said Thompson, a Grand Rapids native who has been the Griffins’ equipment manager since 2001 and has worked for the team since 1997. “I thought Joey MacDonald…the Mighty Mac…it might be something cool, so we went with the Mackinac Bridge. It’s pretty neat.
“Joey’s been up there once before and seen the bridge, but I’ll have to take him up there in the summer and show him the area. When you see the history, the forts, the French influence, the fur trading, Father Marquette and all that, it’s pretty incredible,” added Thompson.