Lost: Season 24: On March 12, the American Hockey League announced the suspension of play until further notice, effective immediately, due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 16, the AHL advised its clubs that the indefinite suspension of AHL play would not be lifted before May and the league recommended that teams facilitate the return of AHL players to their primary residences. On May 11, the AHL announced that the league’s Board of Governors had voted to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 regular season and the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis. Albeit shortened, the Grand Rapids Griffins, under second-year head coach Ben Simon, completed the franchise’s 24th overall season of play, 19th as a member of the AHL and 18th as the primary affiliate of the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings with a 29-27-3-4 record (65 pts.), including 15-11-2-3 at Van Andel Arena and 14-16-1-1 on the road, and a third-place finish in the Central Division. Grand Rapids has competed in 1,881 regular season games between the International Hockey League and AHL since 1996-97 and totaled a 994-683-27-61-116 record (0.583) to go along with seven division titles and two Calder Cup championships (2017, 2013).
Statement from AHL Following Cancellation: “After a lengthy review process, the American Hockey League has determined that the resumption and completion of the 2019-20 season is not feasible in light of current conditions. The League’s operational focus has turned toward actively preparing for the 2020-21 season. We are very grateful to the National Hockey League and its teams for their support and leadership in navigating through the challenges faced over the past two months. The AHL continues to place paramount importance on the health and safety of our players, officials, staff and fans and all of their families, and we all look forward to returning to our arenas in 2020-21.”
Would Have Counted: Grand Rapids finished third in the Central Division alongside a 0.516 points percentage and was in position to extend its franchise record with an eighth consecutive berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs. This would have been the franchise’s 18th overall qualification for the postseason. Eight consecutive seasons in the Calder Cup Playoffs would have tied for the longest active streak in the AHL with Providence, who led the Atlantic Division with a 0.661 points percentage when play was halted.
Bill LeRoy (1963-2019): Griffins video coach Bill LeRoy unexpectedly passed away on Friday, Nov. 1 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, after a lifelong battle with Type 1 diabetes. A valued member of the Griffins’ coaching staff since 2001, Bill was a key contributor to the team’s success on the ice for nearly two decades. Bill’s impact upon the organization endures and he is incredibly missed.
Follow the Leader(s):
|Points||Terry (51), Puempel (39), Ford/Hirose/Hicketts (27)|
|Goals||Terry (21), Puempel (17), Svechnikov/Veleno (11)|
|Assists||Terry (30), Hicketts (25), Hirose/Puempel (22)|
|PIM||Smith (75), McIlrath (73), Svechnikov (61)|
|Plus/Minus||Elson (+8), Turgeon (+7), Lashoff (+6)|
|GP||Turgeon (63), Elson (61), Pearson (59)|
|PPG ||Terry (11), Puempel/Svechnikov (6), Tangradi/Zadina (5)|
|PPA||Puempel (14), Hicketts (13), Terry (12)|
Rotating Roster: The Detroit Red Wings recalled or assigned a player from or to Grand Rapids 85 times this season and, including movement to the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye and the Griffins signing players to professional or amateur tryouts, a total of 130 transactions were made that impacted the Griffins’ roster. By comparison, the 2018-19 season saw 62 recalls or assignments by Detroit from or to the Griffins as part of 123 total transactions to Grand Rapids’ roster. In 2017-18, there were only 78 total transactions that affected the Griffins, 2016-17 saw 96 and 2015-16 had 89. The Griffins used 41 different players, including five goaltenders and 17 different defensemen. To contrast, here is how the usage stacks up to the final player counts of recent seasons: 2018-19 – 41 players, 2017-18 – 32, 2016-17 – 39, 2015-16 – 37 and 2014-15 – 39. Keep in mind, the Griffins still had five weeks and 13 games remaining in the 2019-20 campaign.
Griffins to Wings: There were 13 players who played for both Detroit and Grand Rapids this season – Madison Bowey, Dennis Cholowski, Jonathan Ericsson, Jimmy Howard (conditioning), Joe Hicketts, Taro Hirose, Brian Lashoff, Gustav Lindstrom, Dylan McIlrath, Calvin Pickard, Givani Smith, Evgeny Svechnikov and Filip Zadina. Two players, Lindstrom (Feb. 6 at BUF) and Smith (Oct. 25 vs. BUF), made their NHL debuts with Detroit this season and there have now been 184 Griffins alumni to have played in the NHL. Of the 38 players to play for Detroit this season, 24 had spent time in Grand Rapids at some point during their careers.
Movin’ On Up: After finishing 1-2 during a three-game Texas road trip to open 2020, the Griffins found themselves in last place in the Central Division on Jan. 6, five games below 0.500. Grand Rapids rallied off a 15-8-1-2 record since then, including a season-high eight-game point streak (6-0-0-2) from Jan. 8-24, to climb into third place in the division at season’s end and three points clear of the fourth spot. The Griffins claimed points in seven of eight games from Feb. 5-20 (6-1-1-0), which included a season-high four-game winning streak from Feb. 14-20. Grand Rapids had won back-to-back games and three of its last four before the season abruptly ended.
First Things First: All six of the Red Wings’ recent first-round draft picks (Moritz Seider 2019, Filip Zadina 2018, Joe Veleno 2018, Michael Rasmussen 2017, Dennis Cholowski 2016, Evgeny Svechnikov 2015) suited up for Grand Rapids at different points this season. Adding in Dylan McIlrath (New York Rangers 2010) and Matt Puempel (Ottawa Senators 2011), the Griffins’ roster hosted eight former first-round draft selections. Grand Rapids’ 4-3 decision against San Diego on Jan. 24 was memorable not just because of Matthew Ford’s winner at 1:06 of overtime, but because it was the only time when all eight first-rounders were in the lineup. Prior to this season, the Griffins never had more than five first-rounders (regardless of drafting team) play for them during an entire season, much less in one game. From 2002-15, the Griffins had only seven Detroit first rounders total suit up for them: Jakub Kindl (2005-11; 14-15), Niklas Kronwall (2003-06), Dylan Larkin (2015 playoffs only), Anthony Mantha (2014-15), Tom McCollum (2009-15), Riley Sheahan (2011-14) and Brendan Smith (2010-13).
Numbers to Know:
2 – Matt Puempel netted the team’s only two hat tricks this season (Oct. 25 vs. MB and Jan. 5 at SA), which also marked the first AHL three-goal games by the seven-year pro.
3 – Calvin Pickard backstopped all three of Grand Rapids’ shutouts this season and they all came at Van Andel Arena. Pickard recorded 26 saves in a 3-0 win on Oct. 23 vs. MIL, 23 in a 1-0 victory on Jan. 10 vs. MB, and 35 in a 3-0 triumph on March 7.
3 – The Griffins allowed a franchise-record three shorthanded goals in a 5-3 loss vs. Cleveland during their annual school day game on Nov. 6.
4 – Grand Rapids’ largest margin of victory – four goals – was reached on two occasions and both came on home ice, 6-2 vs. MB on Jan. 11 and 5-1 vs. TEX on Feb. 9.
5 – The Griffins exploded for five goals in the second period of a 6-2 home win against Manitoba on Jan. 11. Five goals marked the team’s highest-scoring period since tallying six times in the third of an 8-4 victory at Cleveland on Nov. 4, 2018 and Grand Rapids’ last five-goal frame at home came in the final stanza of a 5-3 win vs. Cleveland on Nov. 25, 2016.
6 – Six players – Chris Terry (21), Matt Puempel (17), Evgeny Svechnikov (11), Joe Veleno (11), Matthew Ford (10) and Dominic Turgeon (10) – achieved the double-digit goal plateau.
6 – Grand Rapids dropped six consecutive contests at Van Andel Arena from Nov. 22-Dec. 31 (0-5-0-1). The team was shut out in consecutive home games on Dec. 27 and 31 for just the third time in franchise history and had a home goal drought that lasted from 4:24 of the second period on Dec. 6 to 13:37 of the first period on Jan. 10, a span of 174:13.
8 – Grand Rapids’ eight goals in its season-opening victory at Chicago tied for the team’s most in a season opener (8-1 W, Oct. 4, 2013 at Rochester) and was its first eight-goal game since an 8-4 win at Cleveland on Nov. 4, 2018. Eight goals remained the team’s season high.
11 – The Griffins played 11 games that were tied after 60 minutes, finishing with a 2-3 mark in overtime and 2-4 in a shootout.
14 – The Griffins had 14 rookies suit up for them this season, the most since the 2016-17 team had 15. Of those 14 rookies, there were nine who played in 20 or more games, which was the team’s most since at least 2005-06.
15 – Chris Terry’s 15 points (7-8—15) in 14 November games were the most by a Griffin in any month this season.
16 – Grand Rapids picked up 16 points in January (7-4-0-2 record), its most productive month of the season.
21 – The Griffins recorded points in 21 of 22 games when leading after two periods, with wins in 20 of those.
50 – 50 of the 63 games were contested against Central Division foes and the Griffins compiled a 22-22-3-3 record. Grand Rapids was 4-2 when facing the Pacific Division and 3-3-0-1 versus the Atlantic.
Isn’t That Special: The Griffins ranked sixth leaguewide on the power play (20.9%) and tied for 12th in penalty killing (82.6%). Over the first 19 games through Nov. 22, the penalty kill ranked last in the league at 75.0% (54-for-72). Over the last 44 outings, the PK went 86.1% (136-for-158), which tied for the fourth-highest mark in the league over that span (Stockton 88.0%, Hershey 87.3%, Milwaukee 86.5%, Rochester 86.1%). The team allowed nearly as many PPG over its first 19 games (18) as it did over its last 44 (22). From the third period on Nov. 27 to Dec. 31, Grand Rapids’ PKers went 48-for-51 (94.1%), which included fending off a season-high 32 consecutive penalties from the third period vs. CHI on Dec. 4 to the second period vs. MIL on Dec. 27. The Griffins compiled two separate five-game power play goal streaks, Nov. 2-9 (33.3%, 8-for-24) and Feb. 22-March 3 (27.3%, 6-for-22). Thirteen times did Grand Rapids net multiple PPG in a game (8-3-1-1 record).
Back Up, Terr: Finishing with 21 goals among 51 points, Chris Terry has racked up 20-plus goals in seven of his nine full AHL seasons and 50-plus points in eight of nine. Overall, he placed ninth in the AHL in points while pacing the Griffins in goals, assists (30), multi-point games (15) and power play goals (11). His 11 PPG tied for sixth in the league. Terry also led Grand Rapids with 61 points and 29 goals in 2018-19, becoming the first player to lead GR in both points and goals in back-to-back seasons since Michel Picard in 1996-97 and 97-98. For the fourth time in as many seasons, Terry led his team in scoring. He posted a league-leading 71 points (32-39—71) in 62 games with the Laval Rocket in 2017-18 and 68 points (30-38—68) in 58 games with the St. John’s IceCaps in 2016-17.
Tar-Oh!: Taro Hirose’s 27 points and 22 assists in 35 GP since Dec. 3 – the date of his first assignment by Detroit to GR – were both team highs. The former Michigan State Spartan collected 10 helpers during his team-high seven-game assist streak from Jan. 18-Feb. 14, which also tied for the fifth-longest streak in the league this year.
Net Nagle: Ninth-year pro Pat Nagle posted a 9-8-1 record, a 2.32 GAA and a 0.920 save percentage in 20 appearances, establishing AHL career highs in GP, wins, GAA, save percentage and minutes (1136:19). If he had enough minutes to qualify, he would have ranked eighth in GAA and tied for eighth in save percentage among AHL netminders. Nagle enjoyed a season-high five-game winning streak from Feb. 9-20, compiling a 1.46 GAA and a 0.946 save mark (stopped 139 of 147) in that stretch. The 32-year-old former Ferris State Bulldog had totaled only eight games in the AHL – including three with the Griffins – during his first eight pro seasons. Nagle’s 2.35 career GAA as a Griffin ranks seventh in team history and his 0.918 save percentage ties for seventh.
Picks and Pucks: In his first season as a Griffin and eighth as a pro, Calvin Pickard compiled a 17-12-4 record, a 2.86 GAA, a 0.903 save percentage and three shutouts in 33 games. He was named the AHL Player of the Week for the period ending Jan. 12 after he logged a 1.33 GAA, a 0.953 save percentage and one shutout in three victories. Recalled or assigned by Detroit 10 times this season, Pickard made three appearances with the Red Wings.
Model Year: Captain Matthew Ford finished tied for third on the team in scoring with 27 points (10-17—27). In his 12th year as a pro, Ford has banked 10 or more tallies in seven consecutive campaigns and his three multi-goal outings were his most since producing three during 2015-16 with Bakersfield.
Hicks Mix: For the third time in his four seasons as a Griffin, Joe Hicketts led the team’s defensemen in scoring with 27 points (2-25—27), which also tied for third overall on the team. Hicketts became only the sixth blueliner in club history to reach 100 points in a Grand Rapids uniform and the third-fastest when he picked up an assist on Feb. 29 at Texas in what was game No. 254 as a Griffin.
0 to 100: Four players accumulated 100 career points as a Griffin this season: Matthew Ford (Oct. 5 at CHI), Brian Lashoff (Oct. 26 vs. TEX), Chris Terry (Jan. 11 vs. MB) and Joe Hicketts (Feb. 29 at TEX). Terry reached the century mark in his 107th game to tie Slava Butsayev as the seventh-fastest player to achieve the milestone. Forty-four skaters in Griffins history have registered 100 or more career points.
Donuts and Seider: Moritz Seider ranked 11th among the league’s rookie defensemen in scoring with 22 points (2-20—22) in 49 games. Born April 6, 2001, Seider tied Ontario’s Tobias Bjornfot as the second-youngest AHL player this season behind only Bridgeport’s Simon Holmstrom, who was born on May 24, 2001. The sixth overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit, Seider tied Filip Zadina as the highest Red Wings draft pick to ever suit up for the Griffins.
Time to Tango: Signed to a one-year contract 90 minutes prior to the opening faceoff against Rockford on Dec. 6, Eric Tangradi tallied nine goals among 13 points in 21 appearances. He tied for seventh on the team in goals while tying for fourth with five power play goals. Tangradi’s four-game goal streak Dec. 17-Jan. 5 matched Evgeny Svechnikov for a team high. A 2017 Calder Cup champion who played with Grand Rapids from 2015-18 before this season’s reunion, Tangradi ranks among the team’s all-time leaders with 177 points (9th), 85 goals (5th), 26 power play goals (T2nd), 14 game-winning goals (4th), three overtime goals (T3rd) and nine unassisted goals (3rd) in 221 games. He posted nine points (5-4—9) in 22 games for Astana Barys of the KHL in 2019-20 before joining the Griffins.
Puemped Up: In his third season as a Griffin, Matt Puempel finished second on the team in both goals (17) and points (39). The seventh-year pro reeled off a career-high 11-game point streak (8-8—16) from Oct. 23-Nov. 15, bettering his previous record of nine, which was set during his first season in Grand Rapids. His 11-game run tied for the sixth-longest in Griffins history. Puempel collected both of Grand Rapids’ hat tricks (Oct. 25 vs. MB and Jan. 5 at SA), which were also his first three-goal games in the AHL.
Lashoff 500: One of only three players in franchise history to be a part of Grand Rapids’ 2017 and 2013 Calder Cup championship teams, defenseman Brian Lashoff became only the second player in team history with 500 or more regular season games played (left chart) on March 11 against Iowa. There have been 526 players suit up for the Griffins in their 24-year history. Lashoff’s 500 career regular season appearances rank first among active AHL players who have spent their entire AHL career with the same club and rank ninth all time in league history (right chart). He made his pro debut with the Griffins on March 29, 2009 at Philadelphia.
|Games||Player||Played in GR From-To|
|Brian Lashoff||2008-13; 14-present|
|981||Bill Needham||Cleveland Barons||1956-71|
|753||Arnie Kullman||Hershey Bears||1948-60|
|608||Howie Yanosik||Hershey Bears||1957-67|
|570||Paul Larivee||Providence Reds||1952-62|
|534||Pete Backor||Pittsburgh Hornets||1945-54|
|531||Roger DeJordy||Hershey Bears||1962-70|
|Pete Kapusta||Providence Reds||1946-55|
|513||Stan Smrke||Rochester Americans||1957-67|
|500||Brian Lashoff||Grand Rapids Griffins||2008-13; 14-present|
|496||Bob Leduc||Providence Reds||1964-72|
All-Star Representation: Matthew Ford led all players with four goals during the AHL All-Star Challenge on Jan. 27, scoring in each of the Central Division’s games while adding an assist, to tie Matt Lorito (2017-18) for the most career goals scored by a Griffin in AHL All-Star competition. The Griffins' captain and Los Angeles native made his all-star debut after being chosen by the AHL as the captain for the Western Conference all-stars in recognition of his outstanding leadership and service. Chris Terry also helped the Central Division reach the championship game by totaling three points (1-2—3) in his second all-star appearance as a Griffin, fourth in a row overall and fifth of his career. Terry became the sixth Griffin ever to be named an all-star in back-to-back years (Matt Lorito 2017-18, Xavier Ouellet 2015-16, Gustav Nyquist 2012-13, Niklas Kronwall 2004-05, Michel Picard 1997-98 in the IHL) and only the third Grand Rapids forward to earn consecutive AHL selections, joining Lorito and Nyquist.
World Juniors: Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno represented their respective countries at the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic. Veleno helped Canada win the gold medal after leading the team in average time on ice (19:13) and placing sixth with six points (1-5—6) in six games. As captain of Germany, Seider led the club’s defensemen in scoring and tied for second overall on the team with six points (0-6—6) in seven games. He led the tournament in average ice time (25:20). Germany defeated Kazakhstan in a three-game series to avoid relegation. This marked the second consecutive year a player left the Griffins mid-season to compete in the World Junior Championship after Filip Zadina represented the Czech Republic at the 2019 event. Tomas Tatar also suited up for Slovakia during his rookie campaign with Grand Rapids in 2009-10.
Big Rig Returned: Assigned by Detroit on Oct. 23, Jonathan Ericsson suited up later that night and played in his first Griffins game since March 1, 2009. He set a team record for longest time span between Griffins appearances at 3,888 days, or 10 years, 7 months and 22 days (March 1, 2009 to Oct. 23, 2019). The record had been held by Jimmy Howard at 2,831 days, or seven years, eight months and 28 days (May 6, 2009 to Feb. 4, 2017). Ericsson played in 176 games for Grand Rapids from 2006-09.
Win Some, Lose Some: Compare the statistics between the Griffins’ 29 wins and 34 (including OT and SO) losses:
Back-to-Back: The Griffins played on consecutive nights 20 times this season, finishing 9-9-1-1 on the first day and 7-11-1-1 on the second.
|W||L (incl. OT, SO)||GF||GA||PP%||PK%||SF||SA|
Home vs. Road:
AHL Leaders: Twelve Griffins ranked among the AHL’s individual leaders during the regular season:
Chris Terry // 51 points (9th), 11 PPG (T6th)
Dominic Turgeon // 63 GP (T1st), 2 SHG (T20th)
Matt Puempel // 14 PPA (T15th), 4 GWG (T19th), 3 EN (T9th)
Turner Elson // 2 UA (T18th)
Eric Tangradi // 2 UA (T18th)
Givani Smith // 2 EN (T18th)
Joe Hicketts // 25 assists (T19th among defensemen), 116 shots (18th among defensemen), 13 PPA (T9th among defensemen)
Dylan McIlrath // 73 PIM (T14th among defensemen)
Brian Lashoff // 1 UA (T3rd among defensemen)
Joe Veleno // 11 goals (T17th among rookies), 3 PPG (T19th among rookies), 107 shots (13th among rookies), 6 PPA (T20th among rookies), 3 GWG (T8th among rookies)
Taro Hirose // 22 assists (T14th among rookies), 9 PPA (T13th among rookies)
Moritz Seider // 22 points (11th among rookie defensemen), 20 assists (11th among rookie defensemen, T19th among all rookies), 10 PPA (T7th among rookie defensemen, T8th among all rookies), 84 shots (T13th among rookie defensemen)
Take Me To Your Leaders: Following this year’s performances, several Griffins rank among the franchise’s all-time top 10 statistical leaders (regular season):
Brian Lashoff // 500 GP (2nd)
Eric Tangradi // 177 points (9th), 85 goals (5th), 26 PPG (T2nd), 14 GWG (4th), 3 OT (T3rd), 9 UA (3rd)
Pat Nagle // 2.35 GAA (7th), 0.918 save percentage (T7th)
Turner Elson // 5 SHG (T7th)
Matthew Ford // 23 PPG (T9th)
Matt Puempel // 23 PPG (T9th)
Griffins in the NHL: With the advancement of five former Griffins to the NHL this season, Grand Rapids has now sent 184 players on to the NHL during its 24 seasons of play. Thirty-nine Griffins alumni logged ice time in the NHL during the 2019-20 regular season. (* Played for Grand Rapids this season.)
|Martin Frk||Los Angeles||17||6||2||8||-1||4|
|Brendan Smith||N.Y. Rangers||62||3||5||8||-12||71|
|Ben Street||New Jersey||3||0||1||1||1||0|
Griffins by Season:
3rd of 8 in Central, T20th of 31 in AHL
*Season cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic
4th of 8 in Central, 12th of 31 in AHL
Lost to CHI (2-3)
2nd of 7 in Central, 9th of 30 in AHL
Lost to MB (2-3)
2nd of 8 in Central, 6th of 30 in AHL, Calder Cup champions
Defeated MIL (3-0)
4th of 8 in Central, 12th of 30 in AHL
Defeated MIL (3-0)Lost to LE (2-4)
1st of 5 in Midwest, 3rd of 30 in AHL
Defeated TOR (3-2)
2nd of 5 in Midwest, 5th of 30 in AHL
Defeated ABB (3-1)Lost to TEX (2-4)
1st of 5 in Midwest, 8th of 30 in AHL, Calder Cup champions
Defeated HOU (3-2)
4th of 5 in North, 24th of 30 in AHL
Did not qualify
6th of 7 in North, 23rd of 30 in AHL
Did not qualify
7th of 7 in North, 26th of 29 in AHL
Did not qualify
3rd of 7 in North, 8th of 29 in AHL
Defeated HAM (4-2)Lost to MTB (0-4)
5th of 7 in North, 25th of 29 in AHL
Did not qualify
4th of 6 in North, 17th of 27 in AHL
Lost to MTB (3-4)
1st of 7 in North, 1st of 27 in AHL
Defeated TOR (4-1)
5th of 7 in West, 17th of 28 in AHL
Did not qualify
2nd of 7 in West, 5th of 28 in AHL
Lost to CHI (0-4)
1st of 5 in Central, 2nd of 29 in AHL
Defeated WIL (3-1)
1st of 5 in West, 4th of 27 in AHL
Lost to CHI (2-3)
1st of 6 in East, 1st of 11 in IHL
Defeated CLE (4-0)Lost to ORL (2-4)
1st of 7 in East, 2nd of 13 in IHL
Defeated CLE (4-2)
7th of 8 in East, 15th of 16 in IHL
Did not qualify
5th of 9 in East, 11th of 18 in IHL
Lost to CIN (0-3)
6th of 9 in East, 10th of 19 in IHL
Lost to ORL (2-3)
|All Time (W-L-T-OTL-SOL)|
*13 games remained in the regular season when the season was cancelled.
Photo at top by Sam Iannamico/Griffins.