2019-20 Griffiti - Issue #4

Page 1

2019-20 SEASON ISSUE NO. 4


6-foot-6 michael rasmussen

We’re big fans of the Griffins. We’re also fans of their fans. Huntington is proud to support the Grand Rapids Griffins, through the wins, the losses, and the hat tricks. No matter the outcome, it’s a joy to watch you from the stands, competing your hearts out. From all your fans at Huntington, go Griffins!

Member FDIC. ⬢®, Huntington® and ⬢ Huntington. Welcome.® are federally registered service marks of Huntington Bancshares Incorporated. ©2019 Huntington Bancshares Incorporated.

e o

Vol. 24, No. 4

TABLE OF CONTENTS STARTING LINEUP 24 THE NATURAL Michael Rasmussen started playing hockey later than most of his contemporaries, but his athletic abilities could carry him much further.


32 THE REAL DEAL Former MSU star Taro Hirose is looking to carve out a permanent spot with the Red Wings. 42 CONFIDENT CONFIDANT In his new role as advisor to the Red Wings’ general manager, Niklas Kronwall is helping guide the development of the team’s top prospects. 48 RESHAPING THE FUTURE Strength and conditioning coordinator Marcus Kinney is playing a significant role in the rebuilding program undertaken by the Red Wings. 54 THE QUEST Danton Cole, who spent several seasons behind the Griffins’ bench after finishing his playing career with the team, is excited about the opportunity to rebuild the hockey program at Michigan State University.


ON THE BENCH 2..........Chalk Talk 4..........Scouting Report 9..........Griffins chedule 12.......AHL Tradition 15.......AHL Team Directory 19.......Detroit Red Wings 20.......Norm Kolenda Tribute 21.......Promotional Calendar 40.......Meet the Griffi

60.......Griffins eason Ticket Members 65.......Griffins ecords 68.......Griffins ll-Stars 73 .....Penalty Calls 74.......Arena Map/Ticket Info 76.......It All Starts Here 79.......Kids Page 80.......Parting Shot

42 COVER: Living up to the hype is a tall order for any player, but highly touted Michael Rasmussen appears ready to give it his best shot. Photo by Mark Newman

Griffiti magazine is published four times a year by the Grand Rapids Griffins, Van Andel Ar 130 W. Fulton St., Grand Rapids, MI 49503. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. All contents ©2020 Grand Rapids Griffin For advertising information, contact Griffins Sales & Marketing, (616) 774-458 fax (616) 336-5464. Unsolicited manuscripts and other materials will not be returned.


There is never a dull moment when you’re a coach in the American Hockey League. In any given season there are a lot of moving pieces, but this season has been especially exhilarating for the Griffins’ staff as they’ve worked through many challenges – some anticipated and some unexpected – before pulling together as a team capable of competing for a spot in the Calder Cup Playoffs. At midseason, the Griffins were 15-19-2-2 and under .500 at the midpoint for the first time since 2011-12. At first glance, the situation might have seemed dire, given that the team was last in the eight-team Central Division.” But head coach Ben Simon and his players saw plenty of reasons for hope. “I think we started to turn the corner a little before the all-star break,” Simon said. “For the most part, our special teams have been solid for the majority of the year, but we have been doing a lot of other good things. We’ve been getting contributions from a lot of players, whether it’s evident on the scoresheet or not. “Since the beginning of the new year, we’ve climbed our way back into contention for a playoff spot.” With only three regulation losses in their next 17 games, the Griffins showed they could compete with the best in the league. Simon believes it’s no coincidence that the team started enjoying success as soon as the roster showed some stability. “When we struggled earlier in the season, we had no continuity from game to game, which led to a bit of a disconnect within the group,” he said. “There was a lack of consistency. We started having success when we finally found consistency with our lineup, and when you start winning games your confidence grows. 2 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Photo: Sam Iannamico

“It’s been a credit to our guys that they’ve been a pretty resilient group. I’ve been happy with the way the guys continued to work and I’ve been happy with the way they’ve embraced a team mentality, especially with all of the younger guys we have.” The players are pulling for each other even as they compete for playing time. “A good example is when (Gustav) Lindstrom was called up,” he said. “The first guy to jump on his back was Mo Seider. There was no sense of jealousy. There was genuine excitement for his teammate. “Pro hockey is all about healthy competition. All of our guys are competing for jobs, and sometimes that gets lost with younger guys because they’re so excited with just coming to the rink and being hockey players. “I think that youthful enthusiasm has been great for the group as a whole.” Seider and Lindstrom are just two of 15 players who played their first game in a Griffins jersey this season, a number that increased as injuries, call-ups and other transactions have shuffled the roster of the organization. All of the activity has allowed some players to shine. Notably, goaltender Pat Nagle and forward Tyler Spezia have found roles with the Griffins after starting this season in the same place they ended last season – Toledo. “I think we’ve had a lot of pleasant surprises this year,” he said. “Certainly, Nagle and Spezia are two.” After playing in only eight games in the AHL – including three with the Griffins – during his first eight pro seasons, Nagle had more than doubled his total of appearances this season as he compiled fantastic numbers (2.13 goals against average, .924 save percentage) and an 8-6-1 record in 17 games through Feb. 27. “We didn’t expect that Nagle would play much, except maybe a couple of depth games if we had

In Me mo ri


injuries,” Simon said. “But he came up and all of a sudden, he wins five games in a row. He’s given us a chance to win every time he’s been in the net.” Spezia, who registered a goal and an assist in eight games with the Griffins a year ago, tallied six goals and three assists in his first 20 games this season with the AHL affiliate of the Red Wings. “We knew what type of player Spezia was from the games he played for us last year,” Simon said. “With his speed and ability to get into the forecheck, he’s able to create offense with his skating. I think he’s become a little more comfortable as he’s gotten to know the league. “Give credit to both of those guys for making the most of the opportunity afforded to them. They’ve been two good examples for us, but I think that we’ve had a lot of plusses this year.” Another positive is the play of rookie Chase Pearson, who appeared in 10 games late last season after signing with the Red Wings, who had made him a fifth-round draft pick in 2015 prior to his playing for the University of Maine. “Chase was another relative unknown after leaving school early. He has a big body and he’s learned to use his size to his advantage to defend and to protect the puck, and he’s been able to do it consistently. We integrated him into the penalty kill right from the start and he’s learned a lot and he keeps getting better.” Getting better is a concept that has been embraced by all of the Griffins’ young players. Simon has been especially pleased with the progress shown by Seider, Detroit’s first-round pick in 2019, and Joe Veleno, who was a first-round pick in 2018 alongside Filip Zadina.

“I think Joe’s numbers aren’t indicative of his development,” Simon said. “He’s been doing well learning the game, especially defensively. Seider has become more confident as the year has passed. He’s been playing with a little more swagger, which is always fun to see in a young player. “Both of them have done a good job of being contributing factors to the success of our team.” Their accomplishments are all the more impressive given their ages – Veleno is 20 and Seider turns 19 on April 6. They are not alone, of course. Three players who finished last season with the Red Wings are not that far removed from their teens. Michael Rasmussen, the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, is 20. Dennis Cholowski, the Wings’ first-round pick in 2016, is still only 22. Taro Hirose, who finished last season in Detroit after leaving Michigan State, is only 23. “You have a different perspective when you start in the NHL and then you get sent down,” Simon said. “There’s some disappointment at first, but I think they’ve managed it maturely. They’ve continued to work hard and they’re playing with a purpose.” In fact, the whole team has been playing with a purpose – to make the playoffs in pursuit of the Calder Cup. “We’re encouraged in terms of the direction we’re going, but we have to make sure that we continue on the right path as we head toward the finish line,” Simon said. “Our guys have shown they’re able to get the job done, but we need to continue to do all the right things during the final 20 games of the season.”


General Manager

Head Coach

Assistant Coach

Ben Simon

Matt Macdonald

Athletic Trainer

Assistant Athletic Trainer

Assistant Coach

Assistant Coach

Goaltending Coach

Todd Krygier

Mike Knuble

Brian Mahoney-Wilson

Equipment Manager

Assistant Equipment Manager

Strength-Conditioning Coordinator

19 63 -20 19

In Me mo ria m

Ryan Martin

Video Coach

Bill LeRoy

Josh Chapman

Anthony Polazzo

Brad Thompson

Charlie Kaser

Marcus Kinney

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 3



The clubs are matching up in Grand Rapids for the first time since the 2015-16 campaign, as Bakersfield will make its first appearance at Van Andel Arena since beating the Griffins 3-2 on April 16, 2016. The clubs split the first two meetings of the season in California, with the Griffins winning 6-5 in overtime on Dec. 13 and Bakersfield besting Grand Rapids 2-1 a night later. Captain Matthew Ford, a Los Angeles native, suited up for the Condors during their inaugural AHL season in 2015-16 and led the team in both points (51) and goals (27) in 64 contests. Grand Rapids shows a 27-20-1-1-3 all-time record (0.567) against Edmonton’s AHL affiliates (not including the 2006-07 campaign, when Edmonton held partial affiliations with five AHL clubs, one of those being the Griffins).


On Feb. 6, the Vegas Golden Knights purchased an AHL franchise membership from Spurs Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Rampage, and the franchise’s relocation to Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada, for the 2020-21 season was approved by the AHL Board of Governors on Feb. 28. March 25 could be the last matchup between the teams. Grand Rapids and San Antonio have faced off every year since 2002-03 but have never met in the postseason. By the end of this season, the Griffins and Rampage will have played 94 times, which ranks as the sixth-most frequent opponent for Grand Rapids. San Antonio’s 5-4 victory at the AT&T Center on Jan. 5 ended Grand Rapids’ six-game winning streak in the series.

4 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS



Grand Rapids closes the curtain on the home portion of its schedule against the Wolves on April 10 in what will be the 164th all-time regular season meeting between the teams. The Griffins opened their season with an 8-5 victory at Chicago back on Oct. 5. The Wolves won the Central Division in three straight seasons (2016-19), becoming the seventh organization in AHL history to claim back-to-back-to-back division titles. No AHL team has ever won four consecutive division crowns. Grand Rapids finished 3-1 at Allstate Arena this season, winning the last two. The Griffins were boosted by captain Matthew Ford, who racked up eight points (4-4—8) – including a career-high tying four points on Oct. 5 – in those four contests.


The Griffins are 4-4 in the season series against the Admirals, who have led the Central Division for majority of the season. After Grand Rapids’ 2-1 win at Milwaukee on Feb. 5, the Griffins had accounted for four of the Admirals’ nine regulation losses to date. 2020 AHL Hall of Fame inductee Darren Haydar is the leading scorer for both the Admirals’ and Wolves’ AHL franchises, totaling 788 points in 780 regular season AHL games. Haydar’s HOF resume also took him to Grand Rapids, where he captained the Griffins during his lone season in West Michigan in 2008-09. He led the Griffins and posted the ninthhighest single-season scoring total in franchise history with 80 points. He is the second former Griffin to enter the AHL Hall of Fame, joining 2017 inductee Bryan Helmer (2004-06).


Neil Graham assumed the position of head coach of Texas on Dec. 10 after Derek Laxdal was appointed to an assistant role with Dallas. Graham is the fifth head coach in Texas’ history. Through Feb. 28, Grand Rapids is 2-2-1-1 in the season series. Evgeny Svechnikov (3-3—6 in 4 GP), Matt Puempel (2-4—6 in 6 GP) and Joe Hicketts (0-6—6 in 6 GP) lead Grand Rapids in scoring in the series. A handful of players who have suited up for Texas this season are either Michigan natives or played college hockey in the state, including Joseph Cecconi (U-M), Diego Cuglietta (Lake Superior State), Ben Gleason (Ortonville), Tanner Kero (Hancock and Michigan Tech), Joel L’Esperance (Brighton and Michigan Tech) and Anthony Nellis (Lake Superior State). Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 5



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All times Eastern.

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Dear Griffins Fans, Has there ever been a better time to live in West Michigan and be a Griffins fan? The energy around Grand Rapids is as exciting and palpable as it’s been since the revitalization of downtown was sparked by the development of Van Andel Arena and the birth of the Griffins in the mid-‘90s. Everywhere you look it seems there is a construction crane in the sky, and the arena continues to be in the center of the action as we welcome the opening of the Studio Park complex this fall and the debuts of two new hotels within a block of the arena.


That spirit of renewal extends to the inside of Van Andel Arena, where a collaboration between SMG, the Griffins and the Detroit Red Wings spawned a $2.3 million renovation of the Griffins’ locker room and weight room, The Zone team store, visiting locker room and other areas. As our players continue their hopeful development into AHL champions and NHL stars, they’ll do so in fi stclass facilities that provide every resource they need for the tasks ahead. Detroit’s ongoing youth movement could result in as many as six recent fi stround Red Wings draft icks suiting up for the Griffins at some point this season, offering an amazing opportunity for our fanbase and an incredible stat that calls for a little perspective. While the success of the organizational pipeline has been impressive – each Red Wings draft rom 2006 to 2016 produced at least one player who later helped the Griffins win a Calder Cup – a total of only seven Detroit fi st-rounders suited up for us during the fi st 13 seasons of our affiliation (200215). The level of top-tier talent showcased at Van Andel Arena this season could be unprecedented. Add in factors such as our franchise-record seven consecutive playoff ppearances and six straight seasons with attendance over 300,000, plus the new era in Hockeytown under the leadership of Steve Yzerman, and fans in our city have a lot to be proud of. National media is noticing, as Sports Business Journal recently named Grand Rapids as its Top Minor League Market for 2019. Th s gratifying honor recognizes a number of factors that make our area the place to be for sports – from team success to facilities to attendance to community involvement – and confi ms what we’ve always known: that our fans are simply the best. On behalf of everyone in our organization, I raise a toast to you and the part you play in our continued success. Enjoy the 2019-20 season! Sincerely,

Dan DeVos Chief Executive Offic Grand Rapids Griffins

10 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Dear Fans, It is my pleasure once again to welcome you all to a new season of American Hockey League action, as we continue a tradition of excellence that dates back to our founding as a league in 1936. The AHL remains proud of its role in developing nearly all of the players, coaches, executives, trainers, broadcasters and offi als who you see throughout the National Hockey League today. For more than eight decades, generations of our great fans have been able to cheer on future superstars and Stanley Cup champions, and more than 100 eventual members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2019-20 season is sure to be another memorable one as we drop the puck in 31 cities across North America, all vying to become the next Calder Cup champion. Thank you all for your continuing support of the AHL. Sincerely,

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 11



Percentage of all NHL


players in 2018-19 who were graduates of the AHL


Former AHL players who skated in the NHL last season

THE BEGINNINGS Marking its 84th season of play in 2019-20, the American Hockey League is continuing a tradition of excellence that began in 1936 when the Canadian-American Hockey League merged with the International Hockey League to form what is today known as the AHL. Eight teams hit the ice that first season, playing in Buffalo, Cleveland, New

Haven, Philadelphia,

recent championship


was captured by


the Charlotte

Springfield and

Checkers last spring.

Syracuse. From those roots,


Frank Calder, the

the American Hockey

National Hockey

League has grown into

AHL players who also played in the NHL in

League’s president

a 31-team league that


at the time, was

provides fans with

instrumental in the

exciting, high-level

forming of this new

professional hockey

league, and his name

while preparing

would be given to its

thousands of players,


coaches, officials,

trophy. The first

executives, trainers,

Calder Cup was won

broadcasters and more

by the Syracuse Stars

for careers in the NHL.

in 1937; the most


Former 1st- and 2ndround NHL draft picks who skated in the AHL in 2018-19





In today’s National

For the past eight

At the start of the 2019-20 season, the National

Hockey League nearly

decades, the American

Hockey League featured 23 head coaches who were

90 percent of the

Hockey League has

former AHL bench bosses, including 2019 Stanley

players are AHL alumni,

been home to some of

including 2019 Hart

the greatest players in

Trophy winner Nikita

the history of our sport.

Kucherov, Vezina

In fact, more than 100

Trophy recipient Andrei

honored members

Vasilevskiy and Norris

of the Hockey Hall

Trophy winner Mark

of Fame have been

Giordano. The 2019

affiliated with the AHL

Tampa Bay’s Jon Cooper, Colorado’s Jared Bednar,

Stanley Cup champion

during their careers.

Boston’s Bruce Cassidy, New Jersey’s John Hynes,

St. Louis Blues were

All-time greats like

Chicago’s Jeremy Colliton and Minnesota’s Bruce

stocked with AHL

Johnny Bower, Toe

Boudreau are also among the current NHL coaches

graduates including

Blake, Gump Worsley,

Jordan Binnington,

Terry Sawchuk, Glenn

who spent time in the American Hockey League before

whose storybook season

Hall, Brad Park, Ken

began with the AHL’s

Dryden, and Brett

San Antonio Rampage.

Hull came through the AHL ranks and

During the 2018-19

now find themselves

season, a total of 879

enshrined in Toronto,

AHL alumni played in

and the coveted Calder

the National Hockey

Cup is inscribed with

League. There were

the names of legendary

356 players who

AHL alumni like Patrick

skated in both leagues

Roy, Larry Robinson,

last year alone,

Gerry Cheevers, Andy

including Ottawa’s

Bathgate, Tim Horton,

Drake Batherson,

Al Arbour, Emile

Vegas’s Brandon

Francis, Doug Harvey,

Pirri, Vancouver’s

and Billy Smith.

Thatcher Demko and Philadelphia’s Carter Hart. In addition, more than 240 former first- and second-round NHL draft picks developed their skills in the AHL last season, including Erik Brannstrom, Tyler Benson, Jake Bean, Martin Kaut, Cal Foote and Cody Glass.

“My time spent in the AHL played a huge role in the person and athlete I am today.” - J O R DA N B I N N I N G TO N S T. LO U I S B L U E S 2 0 1 8 A H L A L L-S TA R 2 0 1 9 S TA N L E Y CUP CHAMPION

Cup winner Craig Berube of the St. Louis Blues, 2019 Jack Adams Award recipient Barry Trotz of the New York Islanders, and new Anaheim Ducks coach Dallas Eakins, who spent the previous four seasons with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

making the jump.

Fear no forecast.

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2 0 1 9 - 2 0 A H L D I R EC TO RY EASTERN CONFERENCE ATLANTIC DIVISION: Bridgeport, Charlotte, Hartford, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Providence, Springfiel , Wilkes-Barre/Scranton NORTH DIVISION: Belleville, Binghamton, Cleveland, Laval, Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto, Utica


NHL AFFILIATION: Ottawa Senators HOME ICE: CAA Arena (4,365) GENERAL MANAGER: Pierre Dorion HEAD COACH: Troy Mann ENTERED AHL: 2017-18 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 0 of 2 2018-19 RECORD: 37-31-3-5, 82 pts./0.539 WEBSITE: bellevillesens.com


NHL AFFILIATION: New Jersey Devils HOME ICE: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena (4,893) GENERAL MANAGER: Tom Fitzgerald HEAD COACH: Mark Dennehy ENTERED AHL: 2006-07 (as Lowell Devils) CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 4 of 13 2018-19 RECORD: 28-41-7-0, 63 pts./0.414 WEBSITE: binghamtondevils.com

BRIDGEPORT SOUND TIGERS NHL AFFILIATION: New York Islanders HOME ICE: Webster Bank Arena (8,412) GENERAL MANAGER: Chris Lamoriello HEAD COACH: Brent Thompson ENTERED AHL: 2001-02 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 9 of 18 2018-19 RECORD: 43-24-6-3, 95 pts./0.625 WEBSITE: soundtigers.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Carolina Hurricanes HOME ICE: Bojangles’ Coliseum (8,500) GENERAL MANAGER: Derek Wilkinson HEAD COACH: Ryan Warsofsky ENTERED AHL: 2010-11 CALDER CUPS: One (2019) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 5 of 9 2018-19 RECORD: 51-17-7-1, 110 pts./0.724 WEBSITE: gocheckers.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Columbus Blue Jackets HOME ICE: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (18,277/9,447 lower bowl) GENERAL MANAGER: Chris Clark HEAD COACH: Mike Eaves ENTERED AHL: 2007-08 (as Lake Erie Monsters) CALDER CUPS: One (2016) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 3 of 12 2018-19 RECORD: 37-29-8-2, 84 pts./0.553 WEBSITE: clevelandmonsters.com


NHL AFFILIATION: New York Rangers HOME ICE: XL Center (15,635) GENERAL MANAGER: Chris Drury HEAD COACH: Kris Knoblauch ENTERED AHL: 1997-98 CALDER CUPS: One (2000) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 15 of 22 2018-19 RECORD: 29-36-7-4, 69 pts./0.454 WEBSITE: hartfordwolfpack.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Washington Capitals HOME ICE: Giant Center (10,500) GENERAL MANAGER: Bryan Helmer HEAD COACH: Spencer Carbery ENTERED AHL: 1938-39 CALDER CUPS: 11 (1947, 1958, 1959, 1969, 1974, 1980, 1988, 1997, 2006, 2009, 2010) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 68 of 81 2018-19 RECORD: 43-25-4-4, 94 pts./0.618 WEBSITE: hersheybears.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Montreal Canadiens HOME ICE: Place Bell (10,062) GENERAL MANAGER: John Sedgwick HEAD COACH: Joel Bouchard ENTERED AHL: 2017-18 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 0 of 2 2018-19 RECORD: 30-34-6-6, 72 pts./0.474 WEBSITE: rocketlaval.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Philadelphia Flyers HOME ICE: PPL Center (8,420) GENERAL MANAGER: Bill Downey HEAD COACH: Scott Gordon ENTERED AHL: 1996-97 (as Philadelphia Phantoms) CALDER CUPS: Two (1998, 2005) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 12 of 23 2018-19 RECORD: 39-30-4-3, 85 pts./0.559 WEBSITE: phantomshockey.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Boston Bruins HOME ICE: Dunkin’ Donuts Center Providence (11,273) GENERAL MANAGER: John Ferguson HEAD COACH: Jay Leach ENTERED AHL: 1992-93 CALDER CUPS: One (1999) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 22 of 27 2018-19 RECORD: 38-27-8-3, 87 pts./0.572 WEBSITE: providencebruins.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Buffalo abres HOME ICE: Blue Cross Arena at the Rochester War Memorial (10,662) GENERAL MANAGER: Randy Sexton HEAD COACH: Chris Taylor ENTERED AHL: 1956-57 CALDER CUPS: Six (1965, 1966, 1968, 1983, 1987, 1996) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 46 of 63 2018-19 RECORD: 46-23-5-2, 99 pts./0.651 WEBSITE: amerks.com Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 15





NHL AFFILIATION: Florida Panthers HOME ICE: MassMutual Center (6,793) GENERAL MANAGER: Eric Joyce HEAD COACH: Geordie Kinnear ENTERED AHL: 2016-17 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 0 of 3 2018-19 RECORD: 33-29-9-5, 80 pts./0.526 WEBSITE: springfieldthunderbirds.com

NHL AFFILIATION: Tampa Bay Lightning HOME ICE: War Memorial Arena (6,110) GENERAL MANAGER: Stacy Roest HEAD COACH: Benoit Groulx ENTERED AHL: 1994-95 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 15 of 25 2018-19 RECORD: 47-21-4-4, 102 pts./0.671 WEBSITE: syracusecrunch.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Vancouver Canucks HOME ICE: Utica Memorial Auditorium (3,917) GENERAL MANAGER: Ryan Johnson HEAD COACH: Trent Cull ENTERED AHL: 2013-14 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 3 of 6 2018-19 RECORD: 34-34-6-2, 76 pts./0.500 WEBSITE: uticacomets.com

NHL AFFILIATION: Pittsburgh Penguins HOME ICE: Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza (8,050) GM/HEAD COACH: Mike Vellucci ENTERED AHL: 1999-00 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 17 of 20 2018-19 RECORD: 36-30-7-3, 82 pts./0.539 WEBSITE: wbspenguins.com

NHL AFFILIATION: Toronto Maple Leafs HOME ICE: Coca-Cola Coliseum (7,851) GENERAL MANAGER: Laurence Gilman HEAD COACH: Greg Moore ENTERED AHL: 2005-06 CALDER CUPS: One (2018) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 11 of 14 2018-19 RECORD: 39-24-9-4, 91 pts./0.599 WEBSITE: marlies.ca

WESTERN CONFERENCE CENTRAL DIVISION: Grand Rapids, Chicago, Iowa, Manitoba, Milwaukee, Rockford, San Antonio, Texas PACIFIC DIVISION: Bakersfiel , Colorado, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton, Tucson


NHL AFFILIATION: Edmonton Oilers HOME ICE: Mechanics Bank Arena (8,751) GENERAL MANAGER: Keith Gretzky HEAD COACH: Jay Woodcroft ENTERED AHL: 2015-16 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 1 of 4 2018-19 RECORD: 42-21-3-2, 89 pts./0.654 WEBSITE: bakersfieldcondors.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Vegas Golden Knights HOME ICE: Allstate Arena (16,692) GENERAL MANAGER: Wendell Young HEAD COACH: Rocky Thompson ENTERED AHL: 2001-02 CALDER CUPS: Two (2002, 2008) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 13 of 18 2018-19 RECORD: 44-22-6-4, 98 pts./0.645 WEBSITE: chicagowolves.com 16 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS


NHL AFFILIATION: Colorado Avalanche HOME ICE: Budweiser Events Center (5,289) GENERAL MANAGER: Craig Billington HEAD COACH: Greg Cronin ENTERED AHL: 2018-19 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 1 of 1 2018-19 RECORD: 36-27-4-1, 77 pts./0.566 WEBSITE: coloradoeagles.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Detroit Red Wings HOME ICE: Van Andel Arena (10,834) GENERAL MANAGER: Ryan Martin HEAD COACH: Ben Simon ENTERED AHL: 2001-02 CALDER CUPS: Two (2013, 2017) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 13 of 18 2018-19 RECORD: 38-27-7-4, 87 pts./0.572 WEBSITE: griffinshockey.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Minnesota Wild HOME ICE: Wells Fargo Arena (8,356) GENERAL MANAGER: Tom Kurvers HEAD COACH: Tim Army ENTERED AHL: 2013-14 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 1 of 6 2018-19 RECORD: 37-26-8-5, 87 pts./0.572 WEBSITE: iowawild.com



NHL AFFILIATION: Winnipeg Jets HOME ICE: Bell MTS Place (8,812) GENERAL MANAGER: Craig Heisinger HEAD COACH: Pascal Vincent ENTERED AHL: 2001-02 (played through 2010-11; re-entered 2015-16) CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 10 of 14 2018-19 RECORD: 39-30-5-2, 85 pts./0.559 WEBSITE: moosehockey.com

NHL AFFILIATION: San Jose Sharks HOME ICE: SAP Center at San Jose (6,123, curtained) GENERAL MANAGER: Joe Will CO-COACHES: Jimmy Bonneau, Michael Chiasson ENTERED AHL: 2015-16 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 4 of 4 2018-19 RECORD: 39-22-3-4, 85 pts./0.625 WEBSITE: sjbarracuda.com




NHL AFFILIATION: Nashville Predators HOME ICE: UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena (9,450) GENERAL MANAGER: Scott Nichol HEAD COACH: Karl Taylor ENTERED AHL: 2001-02 CALDER CUPS: One (2004) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 15 of 18 2018-19 RECORD: 36-24-14-2, 88 pts./0.579 WEBSITE: milwaukeeadmirals.com

NHL AFFILIATION: Calgary Flames HOME ICE: Stockton Arena (6,705) GENERAL MANAGER: Brad Pascall HEAD COACH: Cail MacLean ENTERED AHL: 2015-16 CALDER CUPS: None ONTARIOSEASONS REIGN IN PLAYOFFS: 1 of 4 PRIMARY MARK 2018-19 RECORD: 31-31-4-2, 68 pts./0.500 WEBSITE: stocktonheat.com


NHL AFFILIATION: Los Angeles Kings HOME ICE: Toyota Arena (9,491) GENERAL MANAGER: Richard Seeley HEAD COACH: Mike Stothers ENTERED AHL: 2015-16 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 3 of 4 2018-19 RECORD: 25-33-6-4, 60 pts./0.441 WEBSITE: ontarioreign.com











NHL AFFILIATION: Dallas Stars HOME ICE: H-E-B Center at Cedar Park (6,779) GENERAL MANAGER: Scott White HEAD COACH: Neil Graham ENTERED AHL: 2009-10 CALDER CUPS: One (2014) SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 7 of 10 2018-19 RECORD: 37-31-4-4, 82 pts./0.539 WEBSITE: texasstars.com 2015-16




NHL AFFILIATION: Chicago Blackhawks HOME ICE: BMO Harris Bank Center (5,895) GENERAL MANAGER: Mark Bernard HEAD COACH: Derek King ENTERED AHL: 2007-08 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 6 of 12 2018-19 RECORD: 35-31-4-6, 80 pts./0.526 WEBSITE: icehogs.com

NHL AFFILIATION: Arizona Coyotes HOME ICE: Tucson Arena (6,521) GENERAL MANAGER: Steve Sullivan HEAD COACH: Jay Varady ENTERED AHL: 2016-17 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 1 of 3 2018-19 RECORD: 34-26-5-3, 76 pts./0.559 WEBSITE: tucsonroadrunners.com


NHL AFFILIATION: St. Louis Blues HOME ICE: AT&T Center (6,374, lower bowl) GENERAL MANAGER: Kevin McDonald HEAD COACH: Drew Bannister ENTERED AHL: 2002-03 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 4 of 17 2018-19 RECORD: 31-38-6-1, 69 pts./0.454 WEBSITE: sarampage.com

THE ROAD TO THE CALDER CUP Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs.



NHL AFFILIATION: Anaheim Ducks HOME ICE: Pechanga Arena San Diego (12,920) GENERAL MANAGER: Bob Ferguson HEAD COACH: Kevin Dineen ENTERED AHL: 2015-16 CALDER CUPS: None SEASONS IN PLAYOFFS: 3 of 4 2018-19 RECORD: 36-24-5-3, 80 pts./0.588 WEBSITE: sandiegogulls.com

The top four teams in each division, by points percentage (points earned divided by points available), will qualify for the postseason.


The division semifinals will be bestof-fi e series, with the firs -place team playing the fourth-place team and the second-place team facing the third-place team. The division final , conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. PANTONE 1655 C






Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 17



nl Be AH duri 2017 the R All-S brig mad City




Photo credit: Getty Images



n less than three years, Tyler Bertuzzi went from winning AHL playoff MVP honor during the Griffins’ drive to t 2017 Calder Cup to representing the Red Wings at the 2020 NHL All-Star Game. He is among the brightest young stars who’ve made their way from the Calder City to Hockeytown. TOP AFFILIATE: Grand Rapids Griffins • 18th Seas ARENA: Little Caesars Arena • Seating Capacity: 19,515 CONTACT: (313) 471-7000 • detroitredwings.com STANLEY CUPS: 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008 MANAGEMENT EXECUTIVE VP/GENERAL MANAGER: Steve Yzerman ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGERS: Ryan Martin, Pat Verbeek COACHING STAFF HEAD COACH: Jeff Blashil ASSISTANT COACHES: Dan Bylsma, Doug Houda, Adam Nightingale ASST. COACH/VIDEO: LJ Scarpace GOALTENDING COACH: Jeff Salajk ASSISTANT VIDEO COACH: Jeff Weintrau



Justin Abdelkader Adam Almquist Joakim Andersson Andreas Athanasiou Sean Avery Ryan Barnes Tyler Bertuzzi Patrick Boileau Darryl Bootland Madison Bowey Fabian Brunnstrom Mitch Callahan Jake Chelios Dennis Cholowski Ty Conklin Chris Conner Jared Coreau Danny DeKeyser Aaron Downey Patrick Eaves Christoffer Eh Matt Ellis Cory Emmerton Jonathan Ericsson Landon Ferraro Valtteri Filppula Martin Frk Luke Glendening Mark Hartigan Darren Helm Joe Hicketts Taro Hirose

2008-09 2013-14 2011-12 2015-16 2002-03 2003-04 2016-17 2002-03 2003-04 2019-20 2011-12 2013-14 2018-19 2018-19 2011-12 2011-12 2016-17 2013-14 2008-09 2013-14 2018-19 2006-07 2010-11 2007-08 2013-14 2005-06 2017-18 2013-14 2007-08 2007-08 2017-18 2019-20

Jimmy Howard Filip Hronek Jiri Hudler Matt Hussey Doug Janik Nick Jensen Tomas Jurco Jakub Kindl Tomas Kopecky Niklas Kronwall Marc Lamothe Josh Langfeld Dylan Larkin Brian Lashoff Brett Lebda Ville Leino Gustav Lindstrom Matt Lorito Joey MacDonald Donald MacLean Anthony Mantha Alexey Marchenko Darren McCarty Tom McCollum Dylan McIlrath Derek Meech Wade Megan Drew Miller Kevin Miller Mark Mowers Petr Mrazek

2005-06 2018-19 2003-04 2006-07 2009-10 2016-17 2013-14 2009-10 2005-06 2003-04 2003-04 2006-07 2015-16 2012-13 2005-06 2008-09 2019-20 2016-17 2006-07 2005-06 2015-16 2013-14 2007-08 2010-11 2018-19 2006-07 2018-19 2016-17 2003-04 2003-04 2012-13

Jan Mursak Anders Myrvold Andrej Nestrasil Kris Newbury Tomas Nosek Gustav Nyquist Xavier Ouellet Calvin Pickard Matt Puempel Teemu Pulkkinen Kyle Quincey Dan Renouf Mattias Ritola Jamie Rivers Nathan Robinson Stacy Roest Robbie Russo Riley Sheahan Brendan Smith Givani Smith Ryan Sproul Garrett Staffor Ben Street Libor Sulak Evgeny Svechnikov Eric Tangradi Tomas Tatar Jordin Tootoo Dominic Turgeon Jason Williams Filip Zadina

2010-11 2003-04 2014-15 2009-10 2015-16 2011-12 2013-14 2019-20 2018-19 2013-14 2005-06 2016-17 2007-08 2003-04 2003-04 2002-03 2016-17 2011-12 2011-12 2019-20 2013-14 2007-08 2016-17 2018-19 2016-17 2015-16 2010-11 2013-14 2017-18 2002-03 2018-19

* not including conditioning stints for Curtis Joseph (2003-04), Chris Osgood (2005-06), Manny Legace (2005-06), Chris Chelios (2008-09), Andreas Lilja (2009-10), Jonas Gustavsson (2012-13), Carlo Colaiacovo (2012-13), Stephen Weiss (2014-15) and Michael Rasmussen (2018-19).

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 19

In Memory of Norm Kolenda (1937-2020) The Griffins and the Grand Rapids hockey community mourn the loss of our dear friend, Norm Kolenda, who passed away on Feb. 17 at the age of 83. This humble and quiet man leaves an enormous impact and legacy over a lifetime dedicated to the sport of hockey, particularly at the youth and high school levels.

20 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

From shoveling ice for the Rockets as a youngster to serving as timekeeper first for the Blades and Owls and then during the Griffins’ first 22 seasons, he was involved with every pro hockey team in Grand Rapids. Norm helped found the Grand Rapids Amateur Hockey Association back in 1972, served as the first commissioner of the Grand Rapids Area

High School Hockey League when it was founded in 1973, coached hundreds of kids including our very own Mike Knuble, then in his later years devoted countless volunteer hours sharpening skates for the Griffins Youth Foundation. Norm Kolenda was truly Grand Rapids’ “Mr. Hockey” and will be greatly missed.

Please consider making a donation to the Griffins Youth Foundation in Norm’s name by going to bit.ly/GYF-Norm

MAR 13




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Salute to Badges Night presented by Comerica Bank


St. Patrick’s Day Celebration presented by Michigan Office Solutions/Chris Terry Bobblehead Giveaway



Ninth Annual Hockey, Hops & Hope at Fox Acura, benefiting Easterseals Michigan


Fifth Annual College Sports Scribes Experience presented by Michigan Office Solutions


Ninth Annual Purple Community Game presented by Van Andel Institute/Jersey Auction


Margaritaville Night presented by Centennial Securities/Straw Hat Giveaway


Fan Appreciation Night presented by Huntington Bank/ Friday Night Jersey Auction


h n



APRIL 15 2020 Calder Cup Playoffs begin, with $2 beers and $2 hot dogs during every home playoff game. All playoff games on

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 21



Presented by Coppercraft Distillery, every Friday night is a Griffins -Zone night. Avoid the concession lines and get your $2 beers and $2 hot dogs served to you in your seats. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 2 or visit griffinsho ey.com/dzone today to purchase a package of four or more D-Zone tickets for any Friday night game.

Wednesday, each fan in attendance will receive a free ticket to the next Wednesday game. To redeem a Winning Wednesday ticket, please visit the box office following the Winning Wednesday game, The Zone during normal business hours, or the Van Andel Arena box office prior to the next Wednesday game beginning at 5:30 p.m. Fans who exchange their Winning Wednesday ticket at The Zone on a non-game day will receive 20% off the pu chase of one item (excluding jerseys). One discount per person present.



Every Friday, enjoy $2 domestic drafts and $2 hot dogs from 6-8 p.m., while supplies last.


Every home game, current members of our military can purchase up to four Upper Level Faceoff tic ets for $14 each, four Upper Level Center Ice tickets for $17 each, or four Lower Level Faceoff tic ets for $20 each with a valid military ID. The offer also extends to veterans who present a VA ID or discharge papers.


Presented by Michigan First Credit Union, college students can buy online using their school .edu email address or show their ID at every Friday game to purchase an Upper Level Faceoff tic et for $13 (or $12 in advance at The Zone) or an Upper Level Center Ice ticket for $16 (or $15 in advance at The Zone). Limit one ticket per ID if purchasing in-person. Visit griffinsho ey.com/college to sign up for College Night alerts.


Ride the Rapid to and from any Friday game and enjoy a complimentary fare by showing your ticket to that night’s game. Visit ridetherapid.org for schedule information, routes and maps.


Presented by Farm Bureau Insurance, every time the Griffins win t home on

If the Griffins ore four or more goals during a home game, take your ticket from that game to Big E’s Sports Grill in Grand Rapids or Holland within four days to receive 50% off a y food item. Dine in only.


For all Wednesday and Sunday games, fans can present their Grand Rapids Public Library card or Kent District Library card at the Van Andel Arena box office on the night of the game or at The Zone anytime during the store’s regular business hours to purchase either an Upper Level Faceoff ticket for $14 (regularly $16 advance and $19 day of game), an Upper Level Center Ice ticket for $17 (regularly $19 advance and $22 day of game) or a Lower Level Faceoff tic et for $20 (regularly $22 advance and $25 day of game). Limit four tickets per card per person, subject to availability.


Presented by Big E’s Sports Grill and available for all Saturday games, each pack includes four tickets and $20 in concession cash for a great low price. Visit griffinsho ey.com/f4p or call (616) 7744585 ext. 2. Continuing this season, fans may use their concession cash to purchase

healthy choice menu options at the stand located outside of section 126, including low-fat yogurt, apples, oranges, granola bars and smoothies.


For all Sunday games, enjoy $1 small Pepsi drinks and $1 small ice cream cups from 3-5 p.m.


Children with Griff’s Reading Goals bookmarks who have completed the required three hours of reading can redeem their bookmark for two free C Upper Level tickets to either the March 25 or April 1 game. M




March 28





Presented by Michigan Office Solutions, K this section, located on the terrace level above section 118, provides the best seats in the house for groups of up to 30 people, with La-Z-Boy chairs and an array of unprecedented amenities. Call (616) 774-4585 ext. 4.


Available on select tickets, take your used Griffins ti et to J. Gardella’s Tavern to buy one slider and get one of equal or lesser price free. Refer to the back of select tickets for details.


When the Griffins win t home, take your ticket from that game into any participating West Michigan Tim Hortons the following day and receive a free donut.

All promotions and dates subject to change. For more information, visit griffinshoc ey.com. 22 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS













Want to feel like an MVP? Get full-service banking. At Comerica Bank, every account comes with the tools, knowledge and one-on-one support you need every step of the way. That’s full-service banking. Proud sponsor of the Grand Rapids Griffins

MEMBER FDIC. CB-215050 09/19

Story and photos by Mark Newman


Michael Rasmussen started playing hockey later than most of his contemporaries, but his athletic abilities could carry him much further.


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Talent can be a blessing or a curse. It’s what is done with those natural abilities that will provide a measure of a man. A musician may be blessed with a good ear, the ability to play different instruments or sing with perfect pitch, but it means nothing if the song is noteworthy only for its cacophony. A mechanic could be able to fix any number of devices and possess the ability to dismantle and reassemble almost anything, but it’s all for naught if he struggles to apply his skill in his work. An athlete might master multiple sports and be able to excel at whatever game he chooses to play, but it matters little if there is no inner drive, no determination to do whatever work is necessary to excel. Michael Rasmussen might not have the talent to carry a tune or carry a wrench, but he might have the ability to carry a team. Perhaps not yet, but given his quiet intensity and tenacity, he is determined to show that the Red Wings were right when they selected him with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. At 6-foot-6, he is head-and-shoulders above many, but it’s the size of his heart that may

ultimately determine where he stands. And if past performance is any indication of future success, he is going to be an outstanding addition in Detroit. Rasmussen played a lot of sports growing up in British Columbia. It didn’t matter if it was baseball, basketball, soccer or track, he was determined to be the best – and have fun doing it. “I played whatever my friends were playing,” he said. Surprisingly, he didn’t play hockey until he was age 10. With two older sisters, Jaclyn and Samantha, the son of Denise and Paul Rasmussen did not grow up in a hockey family. Growing up in Canada, he started skating as a little boy but never had any interest in playing ice hockey until he was older. “When I finally played hockey, I found that I enjoyed it and had fun, so I kept it going,” he said. Rasmussen played in the Semiahmoo Minor Hockey program until bantam, at which time he moved to Penticton to play for the Okanagan Hockey Academy. He spent two seasons in Penticton, roughly about five hours east of Vancouver, before moving on to junior hockey in the form of the Western Hockey

In his rookie pro season, Rasmussen played three games with the Griffins while on a conditioning stint and scored two goals. His stat line with the 2018-19 Red Wings included eight goals and 10 assists in 62 NHL games.

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 25

CLEAN CHECKS Our new ticket counters make checking in for your ˜igh t and checking your bags easier. Gerald R. Ford International Airport ˜ies t o over 30 nonstop destinations.

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League (WHL). “When I left home, that’s when I started to concentrate on hockey,” he said. “It was the biggest step in my hockey career and the most important one, too. Moving out of the house was a great experience for me. I learned to take care of myself, but I also had great support from my billet family who helped me grow up.” As much as he enjoyed all sports, there was something special about hockey that separated it from the others. “Obviously when I moved out of the house to continue playing, I realized that this is what I wanted to do with my life, plus the fact that I always had fun doing it. For the first couple of years, I wasn’t thinking that way at all. I was just focused on hanging out with my buddies and having fun.” By the time he headed to the Kennewick, Wash.-based Tri-City Americans, Rasmussen knew it was going to take a lot of hard work to get where he wanted to eventually be. “In juniors, I think you learn to grow up and become a young man,” he said. “The WHL does a good job of providing its players with the kind of good competition that allows you Rasmussen was the ninth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Rasmussen had his first two-goal game of the season on Jan. 11.

to develop and grow.” Rasmussen scored 32 goals in only 50 games as a 17-year-old before the Red Wings showed their faith in him by using their first-round pick in the 2017 draft, which he attended in Chicago with his parents and sisters. “All year I was working hard to get picked,” he said. “Once the order came up, I was hoping the Wings would take me, so it was an awesome feeling to hear my name. It was something I’ll always remember.” Although he grew up a fan of the Vancouver Canucks, Rasmussen envisioned Detroit as the perfect place to further develop his skills. “I was excited to go to an Original Six team, plus there have been so many greats who have come through over the years and won so many Cups,” he said. “I’m excited about the future.” Rasmussen signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Red Wings but returned to the Tri-City Americans for one more season. Named captain of the team for the 2017-18 season, he scored 31 goals in 47 games before breaking his wrist. “Being named captain was a huge honor,” he said. “It was one of the biggest honors of my Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 27

Events at The Union



28 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Rasmussen is honing his skills as a center, the position the Red Wings envision him playing in Detroit.

career and life so far. We had a good team and had a good season, so being captain made it even more special.” Rasmussen came back for the playoffs and showed tremendous resolve, tallying 16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points in 14 games. “Just being healthy and feeling close to 100 percent allowed me to play my game and enjoy success,” he said. He made the Red Wings’ opening night roster last season. “I’ll never forget the thrill of making the team,” he said, recalling the excitement he felt during his NHL debut on Oct. 4, 2018. “My whole family was there for the first game.” It also marked the first NHL game for Dennis Cholowski, Christoffer Ehn and Filip Hronek. “I didn’t have too many nerves – hockey is hockey. I was feeling excitement more than anything, just the anxiousness to get going,” Rasmussen said. “You experience so many emotions because you work so hard to get there and experience that moment. Not many people get to make it to the NHL, so you try to put it in perspective and have fun with it.”

Rasmussen struggled to get his name on the scoresheet early in the season, but he seemed to relax once he learned that the Red Wings were going to keep them on their roster for the balance of the season rather than send him back to his junior team. After recording one assist in his first nine games, he scored five goals in the next nine. “With my game, it’s not all about getting crazy with points,” he said. “I think I do other things well, whether it’s checking or playing sound defensively. As a younger player, you have to learn to adapt and contribute in different ways.” Rasmussen recorded eight goals and 10 assists in 62 games during his rookie pro season. “Whenever you play a full NHL season, there are many things you can take from it and I was happy to take all those experiences, both positive and negative,” he said. “The only way you grow as a player and as a person is through experience, and overall I think it was a good year. “It was definitely eye-opening. It’s a hard league, a tough league to score in, so the Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 29

biggest thing is patience and to keep working hard every shift. I’m glad that I got that year under my belt and I now have those experiences to lean back on.” Rasmussen had hopes of making the team again this year, but the Red Wings want him to play center and the organization felt getting more ice time and more quality minutes in the AHL would ultimately benefit his development more than a limited third-line or fourth-line role in Detroit. “It’s obviously your goal to make the team and help the big squad play well and win games,” he said. “I just took (being sent down) as a positive and learning experience. I wanted to come down here and grow my game to become the best player I can be.” Rasmussen tallied nine points (2G, 7A) in the Griffins’ first 10 contests this season, including five points (2G, 3A) in the first three games, before a back injury forced him to sit out the next two months. “It was tough,” he said. “I had a good start, I was working hard and I was getting my hopes up. But injuries are part of the game and while it’s disappointing and frustrating, it is what it is. It’s life.” Rasmussen went to Detroit to rehab his back with the help of the Red Wings’ training staff. He finally returned to the Griffins’ lineup on Jan. 10 and scored a pair of goals a night later. “It’s difficult when you sit out a couple of months, but I’m starting to find my game and to play good,” he said. “I’ve got to keep working and finding my groove so I can get back to playing hockey the way I know I can play.” He’s happy to be back playing center, which is the position he primarily played before turning pro. “The biggest things are to be good defensively and play smart positionally,” he said. “Faceoffs are huge and I need to be like a third defenseman down low. I need to find my way to the front of the net and not get boxed out or pushed away. Being a net-front presence is an important part of my game.” Some scouts had projected Rasmussen as the next Tomas Holmstrom, and he is humbled by the comparison. “He was a little before my time, but I know he was one of the best,” Rasmussen said. “I’ve tried to watch clips of him, but there are not a lot of highlights out there. But I know he was

Rasmussen is learning the tricks of the trade as a net-front presence for the Griffins.

the best at tipping pucks and getting rebounds and all the tricks of the trade you use when you play in front of the net.” Instead, Rasmussen has studied clips of guys like Rangers forward Chris Kreider and Islanders forward Anders Lee, among others. “You can usually pick one guy from every team,” he said. “Anthony Mantha has a great shot, but he’s really good in front of the net. So is (Tyler) Bertuzzi.” Ultimately, he knows that it is important that he use his 6-foot-6 frame to his advantage to help the Griffins win games and qualify for the playoffs. “It’s all about using my size and skating ability to continue to grow as a player,” he said. “When we’re playing our game, with our systems and structure, we have a good team. We have a good mix of young players and veterans here, and I’m definitely happy to be a part of this group.” Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 31

Story and photos by Mark Newman

Former MSU star Taro Hirose is looking to carve out a permanent spot with the Red Wings.

In mach poten exha Th that an ex of the roun Th num great Geor the T It W thou playe Paul W so fa draw he re popu owne (liter No Tsuji the T equiv and a fake in th Re the S team Only revea It of the Th years and w Sabr

Ta his fr “It’s a H mad he tw his ju nam 32 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

In the not-so-distant past, before the days of fax machines or the Internet, the process of plucking potential pros from the amateur aether was an exhaustive process for NHL general managers. The draft was a time-consuming necessity that was inevitably viewed by some GMs as an exhausting two-day ordeal, given that most of the talent was chosen in the first couple of rounds anyway. The 1974 NHL Entry Draft lasted a mindnumbing 25 rounds but it also included one of the greatest picks of all-time: Buffalo general manager George “Punch” Imlach selected Taro Tsujimoto of the Tokyo Katanas in the 11th round. It was also one of hockey’s greatest gags. With too much time on his hands, Imlach thought it would be funny to draft a fictitious player and enlisted the help of Sabres PR director Paul Wieland to help pull off his prank. Wieland decided to make the player Japanese so fact-checking would be near-impossible, drawing the name from the Tsujimoto market he remembered from his college days. Wanting a popular Japanese boy’s name, he called the store’s owner, Joshua Tsujimoto, who suggested Taro (literally meaning “eldest son”). Now all Imlach needed was a fake team for Taro Tsujimoto. They decided he would have played for the Tokyo Katanas – the Japanese katana being the equivalent of the western saber. With a fake name and a fake team in tow, Imlach chose the first fake NHL player in history with the 183rd pick in the draft. Reporters fell for the hoax, especially after the Sabres went to lengths to set up a stall in the team dressing room for the incoming Tsujimoto. Only after training camp opened did Imlach reveal the ruse. It was a surprise to everyone, even the owner of the team. That, however, is not the end of the tale. For years after, fans embraced the “Legend of Taro,” and would chant, “We want Taro,” any time the Sabres fell behind in games. Taro Hirose first heard the “Legend” during his freshman year at Michigan State University. “It’s a great story,” he said. Hirose, of course, is the genuine article. He made a name for himself in East Lansing, where he twice led the Spartans in scoring. During his junior season at MSU in 2018-19, he was named a Hobey Baker finalist, a First Team

Hirose signed a two-year entrylevel contract with the Red Wings following his junior season at MSU.

All-American, the Big Ten Player of the Year and a unanimous All-Big Ten First Team selection. He may not make anyone forget Taro Tsujimoto (if anyone still remembers), but Hirose is determined to write his own story as an elite playmaker who is at his best when he is making the most of his shifty skating and smooth stickhandling abilities. Danton Cole, who coached Hirose the last two years at Michigan State, has nothing but praise for his former star player. “Taro was fantastic for us,” said Cole, who was the head coach of the Griffins from 2002-05. “He has a tremendously high hockey IQ. He’s not just good, he’s off the charts in terms of being able to play in every situation. He was our best penalty killer, our best guy on the power play. We relied on him late in games, whether we were down a goal or up a goal. We had a lot of faith in him.” Of course, Hirose first had to have faith in himself. Smaller in stature, he admits he never imagined playing professional hockey, let alone in the NHL. He knew all about Hockey Hall of Famer Paul Kariya, a Japanese-Canadian like himself, but he was a bigger fan of Jarome Iginla by virtue of following the Flames, having moved to the Calgary area from Winnipeg when Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 33

Hirose joined the Griffins in December, less than a year removed from leading MSU in scoring for the second straight season.

he was age 2. His father had played hockey for fun, so he gladly obliged his son’s interest in the sport and paid for his skating lessons when he was young. Taro and his younger brother Akito loved playing various versions of the game, whether it was in the basement, on the family’s driveway or at the neighborhood pond five minutes from their home. “Our garage was pretty beat up from my brother and me shooting balls at it from the driveway,” he said. “We also had a net in the basement that we would goof around with. That’s kind of where it all started.” His game progressed to the point that he eventually attended the prestigious Edge School, where he was able to take his play to another level while working hard in the gym and the classroom. He spent three years at the unique school before leaving to play junior hockey for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the British Columbia Hockey League. “I felt like I was good enough to go to college, so my goal was to get a scholarship,” he said. “When I started getting a couple of offers, I knew it could happen. I got to see what Spartan Nation 34 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

was all about when I took a visit during what was finals week at the school. “I fell in love with the campus as soon as I got there. It was an easy decision for me after that.” Hirose totaled 24 points (6-18—24) in 34 games during the 2016-17 season, the most points by a Spartan freshman since 2009-10. He ranked second on the team in both points and assists and was honored with the team’s Outstanding Rookie Award. “It wasn’t really until after my freshman year in college that I even thought there was a chance that I could someday play pro,” he said. “I had a good year and was given the chance to go to an NHL development camp.” Hirose got a good look at the five-day development camp of the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing alongside and against a variety of prospects within the organization as well as other free agents like himself. He returned to MSU reinvigorated by the experience and had an even stronger season. As a sophomore, he compiled 42 points (1230—42) in 36 games, never going more than two consecutive games without a point. At the Spartans’ year-end awards banquet, he claimed

the Ron Mason Team MVP honor and the team’s Outstanding Offensive Player Award. Hirose was blossoming as a player through his diligence and hard work. “In college, you have so much time to practice,” he said. “You’re not playing as many games (as in the pros or juniors), so practice becomes very important and I did my best to take something from every practice. “I think I grew in all facets of my game, but especially in my ability to create more offensive chances. I learned how to be effective on every shift from game to game and I found good chemistry with my linemates, and that’s something I’ve always tried to achieve.” Last season, Hirose posted 50 points (1535—50) in 36 games. He led the NCAA in multipoint games (15) and three-point games (9), while tying for the lead with 50 points, the most by a Spartan since John-Michael Liles recorded 50 in 2002-03. Even so, Hirose figured he would return for his senior season until the Red Wings made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. “I never had any thoughts of leaving early,” he said. “I thought I would be in school for four years and then see what happened after that.”

He signed a two-year entry-level contract with Detroit at the end of MSU’s season. “The Wings gave me a really good opportunity to play with them,” he said. “It was definitely a whirlwind for me because three days later, I was heading down the road to Detroit, not going to class anymore, and getting ready to play my first game in the NHL.” His NHL debut, which took place one week after signing, came in Madison Square Garden on March 19 last year. He admits that he had trouble sleeping the night before his first game. “I was so nervous that I felt like I couldn’t do anything,” he said. “Even in warmups, just shooting the puck seemed like the hardest thing in the world to do. “Once the game started, the nerves went away. Then you just play and have fun.” Hirose was credited with the first point of his career, an assist. Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill put Hirose on a line with veterans Frans Nielsen and Thomas Vanek, who had 1,857 NHL games between them at the time. “The whole idea that you should watch and learn from your teammates goes to an exponential level when you’re in the NHL,” Hirose said. “Both of them had played so many

At 5-foot-10, Hirose tries to compensate for his lack of size by stressing his stickhandling and skating abilities.

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 35

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games in the NHL that it made it really easy for me to play with them because they’re so good, plus they talk to you to make sure you’re always feeling good about yourself.” Hirose had an assist in each of his first five games with the Red Wings, becoming only the fifth player in NHL history to begin his career on an assist streak of five games or longer. Other players accomplishing the feat were Sergei Makarov (seven), Wayne Gretzky (six), Sidney Crosby (six) and Brett Calligen (five). He finished his NHL debut season with seven points in 10 games. “You always want to help contribute to the team, so it was nice that I was able to do it right away,” he said. “Even if I hadn’t gotten any points, I felt like I could play there. But getting those points and enjoying success right away was great for my confidence.” Hirose started this season with the Red Wings but was sent down in early December after failing to produce points on a consistent basis. By his own admission, he wasn’t playing well. “I wasn’t playing with a lot of confidence,” he said. “I was worried about things that were out of my control, like how I looked to the coaches, instead of just making plays and creating offense like I know I can do.” Hirose joined the Griffins with the idea of re-establishing himself as a playmaker. His play in Grand Rapids eventually earned him a recall to Detroit in early February, but he was soon reassigned to the Griffins. “For me, it’s important to be playing well wherever I am and to do whatever I can to help the team win,” he said. “It’s tough going up and down, but I’m staying positive. There are great guys with both teams, so they make it really easy.” Cole is confident that his former player will find his way back to the NHL. “Taro’s a very intelligent young man and he’ll figure things out,” Cole said. “He can certainly play and there are not that many guys who can make plays like that anymore. Plus, he sees the ice so well. He can pass, he can score, and he’s outstanding on defense, so there’s a place for him.” Hirose wants to make the most of his time with the Griffins. “I had always heard good things about Grand Rapids, but had never really been here,” he said. “It’s blown me away with how nice it is and how much I’ve really enjoyed it. So far my experience

here has been really good and I’m hoping that it continues.” Hirose has been producing at nearly a pointper-game basis at the AHL level. “Points aren’t everything,” he said. “As long as I’m creating chances, I know the points will come eventually. What counts is that you’re making a positive impact on the game. I want to be a player who can play in all situations. “I want to be the guy on the ice the last five minutes, whether we need a goal or need to stop one. The same is true for the power play and penalty kill. When you can play everything, you’ll be able to have a greater impact on helping your team win.” He feels that his play continues to progress but realizes there is still room for improvement. “Being able to come down here, play a lot more and relax a little bit was big for me,” he said. “Right now I’m concentrating on helping the team here. The team has been winning and we’ve been able to climb back into a playoff spot, so it’s been great. “It would be fun to be in the playoffs in Grand Rapids. I would love to experience what winning a Cup is all about.” Hirose is highly regarded for his playmaking skills.

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 37

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14 Forward 5-10, 192 Born: 2/5/95 Squamish, B.C.

40 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Forward 5-11, 185 lbs. Born: 9/13/92 Edmonton, Alta.


Forward 5-10, 162 lbs. Born: 6/30/96 Calgary, Alta.

GREGOR MacLEOD Forward 6-0, 175 lbs. Born: 6/7/98 Dartmouth, N.S.


Forward 6-1, 205 lbs. Born: 10/9/84 Los Angeles, Calif.







Defenseman 5-8, 180 lbs. Born: 5/4/96 Kamloops, B.C.


Defenseman 6-3, 215 lbs. Born: 7/16/90 Albany, N.Y.


GUSTAV LINDSTROM Defenseman 6-2, 187 lbs. Born: 10/20/98 Ostervala, Sweden


Defenseman 6-3, 210 lbs. Born: 1/12/95 San Diego, Calif.

DYLAN McILRATH Defenseman 6-4, 235 lbs. Born: 4/20/92 Winnipeg, Man.






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Defenseman 6-5, 235 lbs. Born: 5/4/96 Waterloo, Ont. Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 41

Story and photos by Mark Newman”

CONFIDENT CONFIDANT In his new role as advisor to the Red Wings’ general manager, Niklas Kronwall is helping guide the development of the team’s top prospects.

42 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

The student has become the teacher. Sixteen years ago, Niklas Kronwall was playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins. An AHL rookie out of Stockholm, Sweden, he was learning how to navigate his way through the North American brand of hockey. Now, after 953 NHL games, one Stanley Cup and countless highlight-reel open-ice hits that transformed his last name into a verb (“kronwalled’), he has assumed a mentor’s role, working with the Red Wings’ development staff in his official position as an advisor to Detroit general manager Steve Yzerman. His new duties have brought back fond memories of his time with the Griffins so many seasons ago and his development as a young player at Van Andel Arena. “My time in Grand Rapids was probably the most fun I had,” he said, reminiscing about the 102 games he played with the Griffins. “We had a young team along with good leadership from some older guys. “We had six or seven single guys who did everything together – lunch after practice, dinner or whatever. We’d find stuff to do. When you have a good group of guys, you enjoy spending

time together. We all lived in the city, so in a sense, it was more like a family.” When he first came to the Griffins, Kronwall was 22 years old, which means he is now tutoring players who are even younger than he was, so he can relate to their experiences of adjusting to life in the AHL. “At home, everything is kind of teed up for you,” he said. “You have your parents and family and other people you already know, so you have a safety net of people who can help you out at all levels. “Here, all of a sudden, things are different. You’ve got to find an apartment. How do you do that? How does that work? When I got here, I was fortunate that we had a Norwegian named Anders Myrvold. He helped me out a ton that first year.” Myrvold, who had played for the Djurgarden hockey team a year before Kronwall joined the Stockholm-based squad, was already a veteran of several AHL seasons at the age of 28 when both players joined the Griffins for the 2003-04 season. “He was huge for me, just helping me understand all these things, even simple things

Kronwall won gold medals with Sweden at the 2006 Olympics and IIHF World Championship before winning the Stanley Cup in 2008. Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 43

Kronwall is enjoying working with top prospects like Moritz Seider, a first-round draft pick of the Red Wings in 2019. like how to write checks,” Kronwall said. “You don’t really think about them because it’s outside the game. You think you’re coming here to just play hockey but there’s something to be said for everything else that goes around it as well.” Kronwall said one should not underestimate the influence of veteran experience. “You need good leadership from guys who are not just good players but also good people,” he said. “We need to give these young players someone to look up to, someone to show them the ropes a little bit.” He saw that same effective leadership in Detroit, splitting the 2003-04 season between the Motor City and the Furniture City. “I believe in the character of the group as much as the character of the individuals,” he said. “You watch the veterans and you see how they react. You watch how they treat people, not just their teammates but their opponents, referees, fans and the media. You watch and try to learn from them.” Spending a second season in Grand Rapids was incredibly important to his development. With the 2004-05 NHL season wiped out due to an unresolved lockout between the owners and players, Kronwall spent the entire year with 44 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

the Griffins. “The lockout year was huge for me,” he said. “I knew I had to get better. I got called up the year before because there were some injuries in Detroit, but I knew I needed to work on my game on the smaller ice surface. “After playing in Europe, I had to change. It’s a way different game over there. Here, it’s more intense, the angles are way different, and you have to learn how to close quicker in the corners, when to shoot, when there’s room to jump up. It took me some time to become used to the game here and I’m really glad I got that time. “I was able to play in all situations and I learned a ton that year, which was important for the rest of my career.” Kronwall blossomed in his second AHL season, tallying 13 goals and 40 assists in 76 games while solidifying his steady play in the defensive zone. His efforts led to winning recognition as the AHL’s top defenseman, the Eddie Shore Award. Almost every player will face adversity during his career, and Kronwall saw his life altered when he injured his knee in an exhibition game the following fall. He missed more than half of the 2005-06 season as a result and battled a bum knee for the rest of his career. “With injuries, you learn they’re part of the game,” he said. “Every time you deal with something like a knee injury, you learn something new about yourself while fighting the pain and pushing yourself through it. “Looking back, of course, you wish you hadn’t gotten hurt, but it helped me understand more about myself. I believe that everything happens for a reason, so I never really doubted myself. All I could do was focus on doing the best that I could do that day, which would set me up better for the next day and it would carry on. “You try to push the envelope as much as you can and try to come back stronger. Of course, it takes some time to get back to where you want to be. It’s hard. You’re never going to feel the same way you did before. The fact is you’ve suffered trauma to your knee. Just learning to deal with it means there are going to be days that are better than others, but that’s fine.” Kronwall played with a bad knee for so long that it eventually became almost a non-factor in his decision to retire after last season. “I actually felt decent last year body-wise, but I felt it was time to step away from the game and spend more time with my young kids and

my wife,” he said. “I shouldn’t say it was an easy decision, but it made sense. I think there’s a time for everything and it was time. It was time.” He insists he harbors no regrets about ending his playing days. “Of course, there are things I miss about being a player, but at the same time I’m enjoying this side of the game and doing what I do now,” he said. Kronwall feels like he’s starting to settle into his advisor role, which has meant working alongside the Red Wings’ development staff of Shawn Horcoff, Dan Cleary and Brandon Naurato. “It’s been amazing how they’ve treated me,” he said. “They’ve spent a lot of time teaching me all the different aspects of this side of the game. I’m very grateful that they’ve been so good to me.” He admits that his role was largely undefined in the beginning. “I wanted to stay involved with the game, but I didn’t know in what capacity or what role,” he said, suggesting that he has been learning “on the fly” in his position. “I’m enjoying working with Shawn, Dan and Brandon and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.” He works with the Red Wings’ prospects, primarily with the organization’s

young defensemen. “I’m enjoying sharing my experience and knowledge with our young players, especially our young defensemen because I’ve been in their shoes,” he said. “I don’t think I planned to be in Grand Rapids as much as I have, but I’ve really enjoyed it. “For me, it’s felt natural to gravitate toward this.” Kronwall said his role is more mentoring than anything. “It’s not so much coaching as doing whatever we can to give these guys all the tools they need to take their game to the next level and hopefully wear the Red Wings jersey,” he said. “We’ll do whatever works. Sometimes it’s just breakfast. Other times it’s sharing video. There are a lot of different ways that you can help them and I think it means you have to do a little of everything.” His approach is not “one size fits all.” “Every individual is different,” he said. “You have to approach things from the perspective of personality and what type of player they are, what they need to improve. Some guys may need more offense. Some might need to improve their defense.

Kronwall offers insight drawn on a celebrated career that saw him lead Red Wings defensemen in scoring five times. Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 45

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Kronwall is transitioning to a front-office role after a 15-season NHL career. “It’s the same with how you talk to them. You can be a little harder on some guys and others you need to build them up a little bit. You’ve got to find an angle to approach them in a way that they will respond.” Kronwall has been impressed with the progress he has seen since the beginning of the season. “To see how far the guys already in the system have come since the fall is pretty amazing,” he said. “It’s been awesome to watch their progress.” Speaking from personal experience, he knows that the development process doesn’t happen overnight. “It takes time,” he said. “The process is faster for some guys while other guys need a little more time. That’s fine. Don’t be in such a rush. Make sure to do what you can each day to get better.” Gustav Nyquist, he points out, spent parts of four seasons in Grand Rapids. Tomas Tatar played almost four full seasons with the Griffins before earning a full-time spot in Detroit. So when Kronwall looks at prized prospect Moritz Seider, he sees a lot of potential that still needs some polish.

“Keep in mind that he’s only 18 years old,” he said. “But he has the makeup and all of the tools. This year he has come a long way and shown he’s on the right track. We’re trying to give him the tools he’ll need to keep pushing. A lot of that is within himself. He has that natural drive. “He could be a big part of the future.” If the Red Wings are going to assemble another Stanley Cup-caliber team, it will take a lot of pieces. When Kronwall got to lift the Cup in 2008, it was the culmination of not just that season but several. “You’re building for years, trying to get there,” he said. “And it’s not just the players. It’s the whole organization – the coaches, the training staff, the front office – all pushing in the right direction. “I thought we had a decent chance already in ’07, but we got kicked out of the playoffs by Anaheim, who ended up winning it. I think the experience of going through that set us up for ’08. It’s not just one season that gets you there. While the Red Wings have struggled to find the win column this season, Kronwall believes the organization is doing the right things to lay the foundation for future stabs at winning the Stanley Cup. “Culture is everything – you need good people,” he said. “For a team to have success, everyone needs to be on the same page. You can’t have any cancers in the room. You have to embrace your role and play hard every night. That’s something that has always been true with the Wings. “I was fortunate to come in an era where we had Steve (Yzerman), (Nicklas) Lidstrom, (Henrik) Zetterberg, (Pavel) Datsyuk, (Chris) Chelios, and (Brendan) Shanahan, among others. Those guys were winners and they drove the bus every day. Your level is never optional. It has to be there every day. “You’re not always going to win, but the effort has to be there.” Knowing what the Red Wings have in the pipeline, including many young players yet to arrive in Grand Rapids or Detroit, Kronwall feels confident that the organization is headed in the right direction. “We have some good talent on the way,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting to watch the next few years and see them take their games to a place where they can help the Red Wings and get the team back to where it belongs.” Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 47

Story and photos by Mark Newman

RESHAPING THE FUTURE Strength and conditioning coordinator Marcus Kinney is playing a significant role in the rebuilding program undertaken by the Red Wings.

When people talk about sports performance as it relates to hockey, it’s not just what a player on skates can do with a stick and a puck. Marcus Kinney, strength and conditioning coordinator for the Griffins, will gladly talk about the building blocks that are necessary to construct the finely tuned, highly efficient muscle mass that athletes know acutely as their bodies. In essence, he’s talking about “sports science,” two words that a generation ago might have been viewed as an oxymoron. “In the old days, if you had an athletic training degree, coaches didn’t really want you around,” said Kinney, who received a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine and athletic training from Wilmington College in 1996 and a master’s degree in athletic coaching education from West Virginia University in 1997. “Coaches didn’t like the idea of someone telling them that they had to keep players off the field. Science to them was a four-letter word. It was like Frankenstein and fire. It was something to fear.” Times, of course, change. 48 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Today, Kinney is in his seventh season with the Griffins organization, although it’s his first as the Grand Rapids director of operations and head strength coach for Barwis Methods, the fitness organization with the new responsibility of rebuilding the Red Wings, physically speaking. It’s an assignment that Kinney relishes. “I enjoy that every day is different,” Kinney said. “I remember my mom telling me to find something that I enjoyed because you’ll be doing it for the rest of your life. When I discovered I could actually make a living in a weight room, that was fantastic.” Born and raised in Dayton, Ohio, Kinney wasn’t particularly driven to pursue athletics outside of BMX racing, pushing the pedals of his off-road bicycle to impressive speeds to the point where he became a formidable force on the national scene during his preteen years. His first exposure to hockey came as a young fan attending IHL games of the hometown Dayton Gems when they were playing the Saginaw Gears, Kalamazoo Wings or Grand Rapids Owls during the late 1970s. “It was all


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blue-collar back in those days,” he recalled. “Fans would travel with their teams and sometimes there were more fights in the stands than on the ice.” When his dad remarried, Kinney said his motocross racing travels came to a screeching halt. After drifting through high school, he tried college for a year, only to learn that higher education wasn’t a good fit for him at the time. “So I went into the Army for four years to straighten my life out,” he said. “The Army helped give me direction and discipline. When I went in, I figured I would either love it and make a career out of it or I would take advantage of the GI Bill and eventually go back to school.” In between a couple of stints at Fort Bragg, Kinney did a tour of South Korea in 1988, serving as a communications specialist attached to military intelligence units. “Out of a 12-month deployment, I probably spent nine months in the woods, playing cat-andmouse games,” he said. “We’d hop along the wire, searching for radar signature patterns, trying to figure out where the (North Koreans) were and what they were doing.” The Army helped shape Kinney in more ways than one. It was during his time in service that he started lifting weights, the better to stay in the peak physical condition necessary for combat jumping. He estimates he did more than 100 jumps, as his back and hips would now surely (and sorely) attest. “With your chute deployed, your rate of descent was still 22 feet a second,” he recalled. “You’re coming down hard, so depending on the way the wind was blowing and the way you were drifting, you were taught how to roll with your landing.” After the military, Kinney elected to attend Wilmington College, a small Division III school in his home state of Ohio. He studied sports medicine and athletic training while serving as a strength coach, initially working with the football team and later for other sports as well. With an undergraduate degree in hand, Kinney figured colleges would be lining up to add him to their coaching staff, but he quickly learned that it wasn’t going to be so easy. “The struggle was the larger schools didn’t take a Division III guy seriously,” he said. “I thought they would look at me as someone who had made something out of nothing, someone who was a real go-getter, someone they’d want on their

team. I kept reaching out to all these big schools, but they all kept blowing me off.” Thankfully, Mike Wallace, the football coach at Wilmington, provided an introduction to West Virginia University, where Wallace had previously served as an assistant coach for the Mountaineers. Kinney headed to Morgantown, where he would ultimately meet Mike Barwis, a similarly structured, highly motivated individual who would eventually have a profound influence on his career. “We struck up a friendship as grad assistants at West Virginia,” he said. “We were like two peas in a pod – similar personalities, similar views, similar philosophies. We made a pact that whoever became a head strength coach first would hire the other guy.” After obtaining his master’s degree in athletic coaching education from WVU, Kinney headed to the U.S. Naval Academy, where his undergraduate studies proved beneficial since the institution was looking for someone to fill a rehab role. After three years at Navy, Kinney headed to Kansas State University (2000-04), where he ran the strength and conditioning program for the men’s basketball team while assisting with the football team and, later, the women’s basketball program. While the Wildcats football team was a power in the Big 12 Conference, both basketball programs were rebuilding. “Honestly, I’ve always been drawn to the idea of being in a position where I can help build things,” he said. “Bigger schools like Michigan and Ohio State are already rolling, so they just plug people in. Kansas State was the perfect place for me at that time of my life.” In 2004, he returned to West Virginia to become an assistant to Barwis, who had risen the ranks to become the strength and conditioning coach of the Mountaineers’ football program and, true to his word, eventually hired Kinney to be his assistant. He was Barwis’ right-hand man from 2004-07 under head coach Rich Rodriguez, who would leave to take the football job at the University of Michigan. While Barwis followed “Rich Rod” to Ann Arbor, Kinney headed to the University of Tulsa for the opportunity to head the strength and conditioning program there. Kinney and Barwis would cross paths Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 49

Kinney is in his seventh season as the strength and conditioning coordinator for the Griffins. again, three years later. After the Wolverines severed ties with Rodriguez, Barwis opened a training center in nearby Plymouth, where he was beginning to work with Olympians and professional athletes. Kinney, meanwhile, had returned to West Virginia to pursue his Ph.D. “When I needed to get my coaching fix while I was taking classes, I would visit those guys during spring break and summer,” he said. “Eventually, Mike wanted to expand into Grand Rapids and I began working with Luke Glendening, Mike Knuble, and Chris Summers – all former University of Michigan guys – during the summer of 2012.” Glendening began the 2012-13 season, his rookie year, with the Toledo Walleye, eventually playing his way onto the Griffins’ roster right before Christmas. With no strength coach in Grand Rapids, Glendening suggested that the club interview Kinney. Blashill and the Red Wings brass saw the potential for a complement to then-athletic trainer John Bernal. “I think my athletic training background worked in my favor,” Kinney said. “They saw that 50 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

I wasn’t a total meathead going (evokes a deep guttural voice), ‘Lift weights! Get strong!’ I think the interview went well, so they gave me a shot.” The Griffins, of course, eventually captured their first Calder Cup with Glendening playing a central role. The organization offered Kinney a permanent part-time position following his initial foray with the team. “Like anybody worth their salt, I just wanted an opportunity,” he said. “At the end of the year, I got good exit interviews from the players about the work that I had done, so they offered me the chance to return.” Kinney saw his role with the Griffins as the logical next step in his evolution as a strength and conditioning expert. “From an organizational standpoint, we know we need to build guys up,” he said. “With a lot of incoming draft picks, that means we’re getting a lot of players between the ages of 18 and 22. The good thing is that’s my wheelhouse. It’s the same things we emphasized in college where you’re trying to turn a young man’s body into a fully developed adult.” Although the field of exercise science has changed over the past 20 years, Kinney said

Kinney does his best to maintain a positive, upbeat environment in the Griffins’ weight room.

many of its principles have remained the same – namely that training requires a three-pronged approach of equal parts of hard workouts, solid nutrition and recovery. “Hockey players are very cognizant of taking care of themselves – everything from their nutrition to their recovery,” he said. “Even the young guys are attuned to their bodies and they’ll talk to you about the things they can do to be the best that they can be, and they’ll follow your guidelines. Of course, it’s true with the older guys, too.” Sport-specific training became a buzzword in the field a number of years ago, but Kinney insists there are certain fundamentals of exercise physiology that are common to all athletic pursuits, whether the sport is hockey, soccer or swimming. “Listen, if you want to make someone stronger in their lower body, you’re going to put their feet on the ground and have them do squats,” he said. “If you’ve got to make your upper body strong, you’re going to do presses, no matter the sport. If you want to make someone more powerful and explosive through their work in the weight room, you’re going to use a combination of Olympic-

style lifts and plyometrics. Those are the building blocks that will provide their foundation. “Where sports differ is in their movement patterns and conditioning. Hockey is very different from all of the other ground-based sports in the stride of the players. A runner cycles their legs in an elliptical-type pattern, but hockey players kick their legs out in a stride, so their hips and groin become a little more important. Their base of support rests all on that thin blade, so their smaller, stabilizing muscles become key in how they are able to maneuver. “The biggest difference, however, is conditioning. You don’t condition a hockey player like you would a football player, swimmer or sprinter. A lot of that work has to happen on the ice. We can put them on a bike, but if they can get their conditioning work done on the ice, it’s so much better because that’s where you can best simulate the action.” Ultimately, strength and conditioning programs are designed to fortify the required joints and muscles and reduce the potential for injury. “You have to remember that it’s the little things that make the big things happen. So we work on Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 51

details, strengthening the smaller muscles so that the major muscle groups can do their work more efficiently.” While he works with the entire team, there are some exercise routines that are tailored to specific players. “In certain aspects, there may be variations from guy to guy,” he said. “We’ll hear from the development staff that so-and-so needs to be more explosive, this guy needs a quicker first step, so there are exercises that we can integrate into his program to help him improve in specific areas.” Kinney assumed full-time responsibilities this past summer with the arrival of Steve Yzerman as Detroit’s general manager. With both Shawn Horcoff, the Red Wings’ director of player development, and Dan Cleary, his assistant, having seen first-hand the benefits of Barwis Methods when they were still playing, the decision was made to fortify the fitness efforts within the organization. All-new equipment was purchased for the Griffins’ weight room, which nearly doubled in size during the offseason renovation of Van Andel Arena’s locker rooms and adjoining space, and Kinney started accompanying the team on every road trip. “With the arrival of Mr. Yzerman, the organization made some big changes,” Kinney said. “During the rebuilding process, we’re becoming even more focused on the development of our players. We want a seamless transition between the AHL and NHL so that when they go back and forth between Grand Rapids and Detroit, everyone is on the same sheet of music.” With new equipment and a new space, there are also new expectations. Kinney said he believes his work will become even more data-driven with time as the organization employs statistical analysis in the pursuit of peak performance. “We’re trying to take the subjective out of training and move into more objective analysis,” he said. “Instead of a player saying, ‘I feel this,’ we can look at certain data points and go, ’Here is what it is.’ By looking at the numbers, we can determine whether someone is in shape or out of shape.” Everything can ultimately be measured for key indicators, from heart monitors that can determine a player’s recovery rate to tests to 52 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

measure the velocity of the bar during the lifting of weights. “It’s new for our organization, but it’s not new in sports,” he said. “We’ve been behind, so it’s a welcoming change and a credit to Steve, Shawn and Dan that we are fortifying our strength and conditioning efforts. It feels good that they’re putting some teeth behind our efforts to build the total player.” Kinney’s increased role means the Griffins will continue to rely on his motivational abilities. “Sometimes the weight room is the last place that players want to be, especially when they have three games in a week or they’re fighting for a playoff spot,” he said. “I try to make this a happy place. I try to be cheery, try to be funny because I realize this probably isn’t the first place they want to be. “I try to create a positive environment to help keep guys headed in the right direction. I’ll do what I can to keep things light, act a little goofy, keep them smiling. Nobody wants to deal with a tyrant. That’s not going to work.” Every player can use little reminders, or even a bit of a push, from time to time. “That may depend from week to week or even day-to-day,” he said. “Maybe somebody had a bad game and now they’re extra motivated to do some extra work. Someone else might have had a bad game and now they’re down in the dumps. “It’s all about learning how different guys respond. You find ways to lift them up and make things better. Strength and conditioning exercises have to be a part of every player’s routine. As they get older, the focus changes a little. Eventually, it’s not necessarily about building strength and power as much as staying strong and healthy.” In the end, Kinney is happy that he’s playing a small part in the process of reshaping the organization during a journey that will eventually see the Stanley Cup return to Detroit. “Understanding the glory days of what the Red Wings represented for so long, it’s exciting to be a part of the building block process,” he said. “Knowing what we do in Grand Rapids at the AHL level is going to be impactful on the organization in Detroit for the NHL is very exciting.”

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THE QUEST Story and photos by Mark Newman

Danton Cole, who spent several seasons behind the Griffins’ bench after finishing his playing career with the team, is excited about the opportunity to rebuild the hockey program at Michigan State University.

Danton Cole played for 11 seasons professionally, but he’s now been coaching nearly twice that long. And so it is a point of pride that he can say that he has coached 100 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League. He has also amassed nearly 500 victories while building a resume that includes international, professional and collegiate experience. For Cole, it is equally exciting and satisfying that he managed to find a home at his alma mater, Michigan State University, where he became only the seventh head coach in program history on April 11, 2017. Now in his third season behind the Spartans’ bench, Cole looks back fondly on his time in the AHL, both as a rookie pro with the Moncton Hawks in 1989-90 and much later as the head coach of the Griffins (2002-05), with whom he compiled a 116-72-17-3 record. “I love being here,” Cole said recently from his office in Munn Ice Arena. “I’ve told people that this is where I always wanted to end up. I want to get this program back to where it once was, to the point where we’re in the national championship picture every year. It’s a quest.” As a player under longtime MSU coach Ron 54 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Mason, Cole helped the Spartans celebrate an NCAA national championship (1986), make three NCAA Frozen Four appearances (1986, 1987, 1989), claim two CCHA regular season titles (1986, 1989), and capture two CCHA Tournament championships (1987, 1989). Cole knows turning around the Spartan program won’t happen overnight, especially when college hockey players – unlike their basketball and football counterparts – are recruited several years before they come on campus. Players recruited during their sophomore year in high school often opt to play one or two years of junior hockey before starting their collegiate careers, which means recruiting good players requires considerable foresight. “It’s a long process, (but) I think we’re turning the corner,” he said. “The buzz around the arena is a lot different than it was three years ago. A lot of really good players are interested in us now.” Cole understands what it takes to win. Two seasons before joining the Griffins in the middle of the organization’s inaugural season, Cole managed to hoist the Stanley Cup as a member of the 1995 New Jersey Devils, a feat that he could especially appreciate as he was 30 years

old at the time. Only two years removed from a 20-goal season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Cole nonetheless was a depth player at that point in his career. In fact, after winning the Cup, he spent most of the next year in the International Hockey League, splitting his season between the Utah Grizzlies and Indianapolis Ice, along with a 10-game stint with the New York Islanders and two games with the Chicago Blackhawks. A journeyman in the NHL, Cole eventually decided to pack his bags and take his wife Deb and daughters to North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, where he started the 1996-97 season as a member of the Krefeld Penguins. “I was getting toward the end of my career, so Deb and I started looking at our options,” Cole recalled. “All of my NHL offers were two-way deals, which meant as an older guy, I was probably going to end up in the minors. We figured it was a good time to try Europe.” Cole played 28 games for Krefeld, all the while watching from afar what was happening back in Michigan on the west side of the state. “We saw they were building an arena and we knew how nice the town was, so the idea of playing in Grand Rapids never left our minds,” he said. “When we went to Germany, everything was fine, but it didn’t really fit our family lifestyle with two young girls. “We started talking with the Griffins and there was an opportunity to sign with the team in midJanuary. We were very excited about coming back. We were totally blown away by the new arena, with every game being a sellout and getting a great reception from the fans every night. It was just a fun place to be.” What made that season even more special, Cole contends, was the makeup of that inaugural team – from defenseman Travis Richards, the only Griffin to have his number hanging from the rafters of Van Andel Arena, to highscoring Michel Picard, Jeff Nelson, and the late Pavol Demitra as well as Kevyn Adams, who would later win a Stanley Cup with the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes. “A lot of them are still my best friends in hockey,” said Cole, adding the names of Todd Nelson and Bruce Ramsay, who would later team together as coaches to capture the 2017 Calder Cup in Grand Rapids. “Plus we had guys like Don McSween and Matt Ruchty who were a big part of that team and who still live in town.”

Cole said everyone could sense what the Griffins and Van Andel Arena meant to Grand Rapids. “If you go back and look at the time horizon of when the arena was built to now, the growth downtown has been tremendous. It blossomed from one street to the next,” he said. “And when you look at the ownership of the team and all they’ve done in the community, it’s just unbelievable. “To be a small part of the beginning of all that excitement is pretty cool.” Cole recognized that his playing days were coming to an end. Despite his prowess as a penalty killer, various injuries – a broken leg, a sports hernia, nerve damage in his neck – were conspiring to convince him that he needed to decide what was next. “I think God was letting me know that it was time to stop playing,” he said, assaying all his ailments. “Even so, the decision was still hard. You identify your whole life as a hockey player and to give that up wasn’t easy.” During Cole’s last full season as a player in 1998-99, Griffins head coach Guy Charron and assistant coach Curtis Hunt helped point him in the right direction. “They did a great job of not only understanding what I was going through but also being demanding enough to show me what coaching is all about,” he said. “I don’t think guys who think they’re just going to jump into coaching realize how many hours go into the job. For me, that was the biggest shock. “As a player, you’re accustomed to getting to the rink, practicing and maybe working out before going to lunch with the boys at 12:30 or 1, and then you go home to grab a nap. For players, it’s a pretty easy day. “As a coach, it’s like Mike Babcock would say, you’re either in by 6 or you stay until 6. There are long days. I have to give Guy and Curtis credit because they helped me to see that I really loved coaching and it’s a challenge that I love.” Cole, who excelled in the classroom at MSU and graduated with a degree in finance, had been thinking of becoming a stockbroker, opening an office in Grand Rapids for a friend who already had a business in Chicago. “Coaching wasn’t a career path that I thought I was going to take,” he said. “But my career took a severe right turn and more than 20 years later, I’m still at it. It’s taken me and my family in a lot Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 55




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of different directions that we might not have expected, but I wouldn’t trade anything that happened along the way for anything else.” An assistant coach for Grand Rapids for two seasons (1999-2001) who then guided the Muskegon Fury to the 2002 UHL championship before being named head coach of the Griffins that summer, he joined the UHL’s Motor City Mechanics after the Griffins decided to change coaches midway through the 2004-05 AHL campaign. Following a second season in the lower rungs of professional hockey, he decided he wanted to change tack. Although he sought another head coaching role, Cole discovered that most schools looked at him as a “pro guy, not a college guy,” so he accepted an assistant coaching position with Bowling Green State University. That job led him to the University of AlabamaHuntsville, where he coached the Chargers for three seasons (2007-10), keeping the team competitive even as its league, College Hockey America, was folding. “It was a great place because of the people there,” he said. “Everybody loved hockey, but we were in a tough spot because the league was going away and we were an outlier geographically, which made it harder to recruit and raise money. We were a D-II school in a D-I sport, but everything I learned would later help me in terms of how to build a team and how to fundraise and get the community on board.” Cole eventually left the school for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, where he would alternate coaching the U-17 and U-18 teams, helping to mold the young men into not only good hockey players but also high-quality individuals off the ice. “I think coaching there is like coaching three years anywhere else,” he said. “It’s an environment where you have real high-end hockey players who sometimes look like men on the ice but when they come off the ice, they’re still 16 or 17 or 18-year-olds and they’re like every other teenager in the world. “If I had a son who had a chance to get into the program, I’d knock down any wall to get him there, even if he never played a day of hockey afterward. It’s such a positive environment. We have two years to help turn them into men and guys are willing to train and invest in themselves in terms of getting better.”

Cole was excited to return to East Lansing, where he was a key member of some of the most successful Spartan hockey teams, including the 1985-86 squad that won the national championship. The USA Hockey program has produced more than its share of talent. During his tenure, Cole saw Jack Eichel (Buffalo), Auston Matthews (Toronto) and Dylan Larkin (Detroit), among others. What makes the NTDP unique is that the program is designed to test the mettle of the teenagers by having them face more advanced competition. A team of teenagers competing against a college team every week is a tall order. “Intentionally, we put these young men at a deficit, so it’s a challenge,” Cole said. “These are guys who have always had success and now they’re coming into a situation that’s really going to test them. From a teaching and motivational standpoint, it’s really good for coaching. I think every coach should coach a team that is not favored in any game that you play.” Cole said he certainly learned the importance of patience during his time with the U.S. National Team. No matter how talented young players might be, they are still bound to make their share of mistakes. It was good training for his future work at MSU. Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 57

Cole is in his third season behind the MSU bench. Looking back on his 20-plus years in coaching, he believes he has maintained a fundamental philosophy while evolving in various approaches and methods to achieve his teaching aims. “There’s a certain core of beliefs that you always have, but what changes is how you teach and the methods you use to get your message across in terms of what’s the most effective way,” he said. “The one thing you discover is there are certain ways that guys learn, and in the end that’s why we are here: to teach. The principles – hard work, the commitment, the investment it takes to be a good hockey player, the importance of being a great teammate – have to always be there even when your systems may change. “If you don’t make mistakes, you don’t move forward and I’ve made plenty,” he said. “I’m a recovering, mistake-ridden coach but you’re always trying to get better and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a good journey.” Cole has been coaching long enough that he was able to coach the sons of former Griffins teammates Derek King (D.J.) and John Gruden (Jonathan) in the U.S. National program. He has learned that sons with dads who played the sport professionally have a certain advantage over their contemporaries. 58 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

“They usually know how it all works because most of them have spent a lot of time on the ice, having grown up as rink rats,” Cole said. “It’s kinda funny. Sometimes they do the same things their dads did. ‘Oh, I see where that comes from.’ It’s fun to coach them, but it makes you feel a little bit old.” He currently coaches defensemen Cole and Christian Krygier, the identical twin sons of Griffins assistant coach Todd Krygier. A veteran of nine NHL seasons, Krygier was finishing his long playing career with the Orlando Solar Bears at the same time that Cole was ending his with the Griffins. “Cole and Christian have been great,” (Danton) Cole said. “You can tell that their dad has been their coach for a big chunk of their lives. They were true freshmen coming in and they did a great job getting acclimated to the program, both on and off the ice in the classroom. They’re thriving and they just keep getting better, plus they’ve got a great intensity about them. They’re a big part of our team.” Cole says he’s a better coach today than when he started with the Griffins. “I think I’ve gotten better at teaching and how to go about things in terms of how to build a team

and build a culture,” he said. “Whether it’s in the AHL, the national program or college, as a coach you’re here to help young men get what they want and that’s an awful lot of fun.” He admits to still keeping tabs on the fortunes of the Griffins, especially when some of his former players come through Grand Rapids. Taro Hirose, who was the Spartans’ leading scorer during Cole’s first two seasons at MSU, currently plays with the Griffins. “I found the AHL to be a great teaching atmosphere,” he said. “Guys don’t want to be in the AHL. They want to be in the NHL. So you have a good, captive audience that is willing to learn. If they think you know what you are doing and you do, and you’re consistent with your message, you can help them get better.” Winning is always the goal, Cole thinks the true aim of a good coach is helping players get better. “As a coach, you have to be ruthlessly introspective and as you get older, it’s a little easier to do,” he said. “You also have to be a lifelong learner. I read a ton of books and any time I can watch another coach talk, I’ll spend the time. Podcasts are great, too. At the end of the day, you’re just trying to become a better person. I am

what I am, (but) hopefully working into a better version of who I am. “In the beginning, you worry about wins and you want to keep coaching, so you gotta win. That’s always in your mind. When you get older, you want to be a coach of significance. So when one of your players looks back 10 or 15 years later, they can say that was a good time in their life and they learned a lot about hockey but they learned a lot of other things as well.” Whether they become doctors, lawyers or teachers, or even if they eventually do play in the NHL, Cole hopes his former players will be able to look back to their hockey experience as a positive. “Everyone wants to keep playing hockey and hopefully your room is filled with guys who are working towards that goal,” he said. “You set a course for them and show them the things that they need to improve. If they want to play in the NHL, there are certain things they have to do. “At the end of the day, you’re watching guys grow up. I don’t know if there’s an NHL team that doesn’t have at least one or two guys that I coached at some level, and that’s pretty neat.”

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Michel Picard

Chris Terry

GAMES PLAYED Travis Richards Brian Lashoff (2nd) 5 players tied 3 players tied GOALS Michel Picard Eric Tangradi (5th) Donald MacLean (2005-06) Chris Terry ASSISTS Michel Picard Eric Tangradi (11th) Jiri Hudler (2005-06) Carter Camper

All-Time Active Leader Single-Season 2018-19 All-Time Active Leader Single-Season 2018-19 All-Time Active Leader Single-Season 2018-19

Martin Prusek

655 494 *82 72

All-Time Active Leader Single-Season 2018-19

158 84 *56 29

All-Time Active Leader Single-Season 2018-19

222 91 60 33

All-Time Active Leader Single-Season 2018-19

POINTS Michel Picard Eric Tangradi (9th) Michel Picard (1996-97) Chris Terry PLUS/MINUS Travis Richards Eric Tangradi (13th) Ivan Ciernik (2000-01) Vili Saarijarvi PENALTY MINUTES Darryl Bootland Dylan McIlrath (15th) Darryl Bootland (2005-06) Dylan McIlrath

380 175 101 61 +131 +43 *+41 +19 1,164 326 390 98

* = Led League


Dylan McIlrath

Brian Lashoff

Joey MacDonald




Tom McCollum



Joey MacDonald


Joey MacDonald (2004-05)



6 players tied





Patrik Rybar SAVES





Martin Prusek



Tom McCollum



Martin Prusek (2001-02)



Joey MacDonald (2004-05)



Patrik Rybar WINS






Tom McCollum



Martin Prusek



Joey MacDonald (2004-05)



Joey MacDonald (2003-04)


Mike Fountain (2000-01)



Patrik Rybar



Harri Sateri


* = Led League

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 65


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Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 67




2019 AHL All-Star Chris Terry


Chris Terry Matt Lorito, Matt Puempel Matt Lorito, Robbie Russo, Todd Nelson (head coach) Jeff oggan (captain), Xavier Ouellet Xavier Ouellet, Teemu Pulkkinen Alexey Marchenko, Jeff lashill (co-coach) Chad Billins, Petr Mrazek, Gustav Nyquist Gustav Nyquist Ilari Filppula, Brendan Smith Patrick Rissmiller Jakub Kindl, Daniel Larsson Jonathan Ericsson, Jimmy Howard

68 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS


Matt Puempel


Matt Lorito



Chad Billins

2018-19 2017-18 2016-17 2015-16 2014-15 2013-14 2012-13 2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-09 2007-08


Teemu Pulkkinen

Jeff oggan and Xavier Ouellet



Alexey Marchenko


Petr Mrazek

2006-07 2005-06 2004-05 2003-04 2002-03 2001-02 2000-01 1999-00 1998-99 1997-98 1996-97

Gustav Nyquist

Derek Meech, Kip Miller (captain) Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler, Donald MacLean Niklas Kronwall, Joey MacDonald Jiri Hudler, Niklas Kronwall, Travis Richards (captain), Nathan Robinson Marc Lamothe, Mark Mowers Chris Bala, John Gruden, Kip Miller, Martin Prusek, Petr Schastlivy, Bruce Cassidy (head coach), Gene Reilly (asst. coach) Mike Fountain, Joel Kwiatkowski, Travis Richards, Todd White, Bruce Cassidy (co-coach) John Gruden, Jani Hurme, Kevin Miller, Petr Schastlivy Robert Petrovicky, Maxim Spiridonov Ian Gordon, Kerry Huffman, ichel Picard Jeff elson, Michel Picard, Pokey Reddick





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70 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

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Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 71

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72 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

BOARDING Called for any action which causes an opponent to be thrown violently into the boards.

HIGH STICKING Making contact with an opponent while carrying the stick above shoulder hight.

MISCONDUCT 10-minute or disqualifi ation penalty for excessive or additional misbehavior on the ice.

TRIPPING Called for using the stick, arm or leg to cause an opponent to trip or fall.

CHARGING Taking a run at an opposing player using more than three strides to build up speed.

HOLDING Clutching an opposing player’s body with the hands, arms or legs.

ROUGHING Called for engaging in fisti uff or shoving.

UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT Called for unsportsmanlike actions such as disputing an offici ’s decision, grabbing the face mask of a player, etc.

CROSS CHECKING A check or block delivered by a player with both hands on the stick and no part of the stick on the ice.

HOOKING The use of the stick or blade to impede the progress of an opponent.

SLASHING Striking an opposing player with the stick.

DELAYED PENALTY Referee extends his arm and points to the penalized player until the penalized team regains possession of the puck.

INTERFERENCE When a player impedes the progress of an opponent who is not in possession of the puck.

SPEARING Called for using the stick like a spear.

ELBOWING Called when a player uses an elbow to impede an opponent.

KNEEING Called when a player uses a knee to impede an opponent.

WASH-OUT When used by the referee, it means goal disallowed. When used by linesmen, it means there is no icing or no offsid .

Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 73




74 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Bakersfield Condors • Belleville Senators • Binghamton Devils • Bridgeport Sound Tigers • Charlotte Checkers




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Ticket Discounts

News & Live Score Updates Game Night Experiences

Since their inception

chalice in six of the last 12

in 1996, the Griffins have sent 1

years and in eight of the last 15

players to the National Hockey

seasons. In chronological order,

League, 16 of whom have

here are the 23 goalies and 161

gone on to win the Stanley Cup. In fact, a Griffi alumnus has had his name 76 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

engraved on Lord Stanley’s

skaters who have worn an NHL sweater after playing for Grand Rapids, along with the dates of their NHL debuts/returns.









s of

1............Pavol Demitra............................3/17/97 STL at PHX 2............Kevyn Adams...........................10/1/97 TOR vs. WSH 3............Tyler Moss................................10/28/97 CGY vs. PIT 4............Michel Picard..................................1/6/98 STL at SJ 5............Jeff Nelson.............................10/10/98 NSH vs. FLA 6............Patrick Traverse.......................10/10/98 OTT at COL 7............Mark Greig...................................1/7/99 PHI vs. NYI 8............Radim Bicanek............................2/1/99 OTT at VAN 9............Robert Petrovicky........................2/15/99 TB at NYI 10..........Andrei Vasilyev...........................3/5/99 PHX vs. DET 11..........Todd Hlushko...............................4/25/99 PIT vs. NJ 12..........Patrick Lalime............................10/2/99 OTT at PHI 13..........Glen Metropolit......................10/2/99 WSH at FLA 14..........Kevin Miller.............................10/31/99 OTT at ATL 15..........Karel Rachunek.......................10/31/99 OTT at ATL 16..........Erich Goldmann....................11/11/99 OTT vs. NSH 17..........Yves Sarault...............................11/20/99 OTT at NJ 18..........John Gruden...........................11/30/99 OTT vs. CHI 19..........Mike Fountain..............................12/3/99 OTT at NJ 20..........Dave Van Drunen....................12/13/99 OTT at TOR 21..........Petr Schastlivy..............................1/3/00 OTT vs. NJ 22..........John Emmons............................1/6/00 OTT vs. PHX 23..........Slava Butsayev..........................1/28/00 OTT at BUF 24..........Aris Brimanis.............................2/13/00 NYI at NYR 25..........Dieter Kochan............................3/28/00 TB vs. DAL 26..........Jani Hurme....................................4/9/00 OTT vs. TB 27..........Shane Hnidy.............................10/5/00 OTT at BOS 28..........Donald MacLean...................10/14/00 TOR vs. OTT 29..........David Oliver...............................11/4/00 OTT vs. CBJ 30..........Jamie Rivers............................11/12/00 OTT at CAR 31..........Sean Gagnon.........................11/26/00 OTT at NYR 32..........Joel Bouchard........................11/29/00 PHX at COL 33..........Mike Crowley..........................12/8/00 ANA at MIN 34..........Ivan Ciernik.................................1/23/01 OTT at NYI 35..........Darren Rumble..............................2/6/01 STL at COL 36..........Joel Kwiatkowski......................2/19/01 OTT at BUF 37..........Todd White................................2/19/01 OTT at BUF 38..........Chris Neil....................................10/3/01 OTT at TOR 39..........Toni Dahlman..........................1/3/02 OTT vs. WSH 40..........Steve Martins............................1/11/02 OTT at FLA 41..........Kip Miller.......................................1/17/02 NYI at SJ 42..........Jody Hull.........................................2/4/02 OTT at TB 43..........Dmitry Afanasenkov.......................2/6/02 TB at FLA 44..........Simon Lajeunesse..........................3/7/02 OTT at SJ 45..........Martin Prusek...........................3/23/02 OTT vs. ATL 46..........Chris Bala....................................3/27/02 OTT at NYI 47..........Neil Little...................................3/28/02 PHI at CAR 48..........Josh Langfeld..............................3/30/02 OTT vs. TB 49..........Gaetan Royer...............................4/1/02 TB vs. NYR 50.........Jason Spezza...................10/24/02 OTT at BOS

51..........Sean Avery................................10/29/02 DET vs. SJ 52..........Jason Doig.................................12/3/02 WSH at PIT 53..........Jason Williams.........................12/5/02 DET at PHX 54..........Patrick Boileau......................12/19/02 DET vs. DAL 55..........Stacy Roest.............................2/20/03 DET vs. EDM 56..........Wade Brookbank..................10/9/03 NSH vs. ANA 57..........Julien Vauclair........................10/25/03 OTT at MTL 58........ Jiri Hudler............................10/29/03 DET vs. STL 59..........Curtis Joseph..........................10/30/03 DET at NSH 60..........Darryl Bootland......................11/8/03 DET vs. NSH 61..........Mark Mowers........................11/19/03 DET vs. CBJ 62..........Nathan Robinson..................11/28/03 DET vs. NYI 63..........Blake Sloan.................................12/4/03 DAL at LA 64........ Niklas Kronwall...................12/10/03 DET at BUF 65..........Ryan Barnes...........................12/15/03 DET vs. FLA 66........ Chris Kelly............................... 2/5/04 OTT vs. TOR 67..........Marc Lamothe.........................2/23/04 DET at EDM 68..........Anders Myrvold........................2/26/04 DET at CGY 69..........Mathieu Chouinard...................2/29/04 LA at ANA 70..........Brett Lebda..................................10/5/05 DET vs. STL 71..........Mark Eaton..................................10/5/05 NSH vs. SJ 72..........Chris Osgood.............................10/29/05 DET at CHI 73..........Kyle Quincey..........................11/25/05 DET at ANA 74.........Jimmy Howard.................11/28/05 DET at LA 75.........Valtteri Filppula................12/15/05 DET at FLA 76..........Rob Collins..............................12/17/05 NYI vs. COL 77..........Manny Legace............................1/5/06 DET vs. STL 78..........David Gove...............................1/31/06 CAR at MTL 79..........Tomas Kopecky..............................2/28/06 DET at SJ 80..........Alexandre Giroux........................3/25/06 NYR at TB 81..........Joey MacDonald........................10/19/06 DET at SJ 82..........Derek Meech...............................12/7/06 DET vs. STL 83..........Matt Ellis...................................12/18/06 DET at CBJ 84..........Matt Hussey...............................1/26/07 DET at STL 85..........Sheldon Brookbank.......................2/6/07 NSH at PIT 86..........Danny Syvret..........................2/27/07 EDM vs. PHX 87..........Mark Hartigan.........................11/29/07 DET vs. TB 88..........Drew MacIntyre........................12/13/07 VAN at SJ 89..........Peter Vandermeer..................2/10/08 PHX vs. NSH 90.......Jonathan Ericsson..........2/22/08 DET at CGY 91..........Garrett Stafford.........................2/23/08 DET at VAN 92.........Darren Helm.......................3/13/08 DET vs. DAL 93..........Mattias Ritola..........................3/15/08 DET vs. NSH 94..........Clay Wilson................................3/25/08 CBJ at NSH 95..........Darren McCarty..........................3/28/08 DET vs. STL 96..........Krys Kolanos.................................11/4/08 MIN at SJ 97..........Landon Wilson.....................11/22/08 DAL vs. ANA 98..........Bryan Helmer.....................11/28/08 WSH vs. MTL 99..........Chris Chelios ..........................12/13/08 DET at PHX 100........Aaron Downey.........................1/29/09 DET vs. DAL 101......Justin Abdelkader..........1/31/09 DET at WSH 102........Ville Leino................................1/31/09 DET at WSH 103........Aaron Gagnon......................10/16/09 DAL vs. BOS 104........Scott Parse................................10/24/09 LA at PHX 105........Doug Janik...............................11/3/09 DET vs. BOS 106.........Ryan Keller................................11/25/09 OTT at NJ 107........Jakub Kindl.............................12/3/09 DET vs. EDM 108........Kris Newbury........................12/14/09 DET vs. PHX 109.........Darren Haydar...........................2/10/10 COL vs. ATL 110........Andreas Lilja................................3/1/10 DET at COL 111.........Jeremy Williams......................10/24/10 NYR vs. NJ 112........Jan Mursak..............................12/27/10 DET at COL 113........Chris Mueller.........................12/28/10 NSH vs. DAL 114........Tomas Tatar......................12/31/10 DET vs. NYI 115........Cory Emmerton........................1/22/11 DET vs. CHI 116.........Patrick Rissmiller......................2/23/11 ATL at BUF 117 .......Tom McCollum . .......................3/30/11 DET vs. STL 118 ......Gustav Nyquist ...............11/1/11 DET vs. MIN 119 ........Fabian Brunnstrom....................11/5/11 DET vs. ANA 120.......Brendan Smith..................11/17/11 DET at SJ

121......Mark Cullen.................11/29/11 FLA at CAR 122........Chris Conner..............................12/2/11 DET at BUF 123........Joakim Andersson.................12/27/11 DET vs. STL 124.......Ty Conklin .........................3/21/12 DET at NYR 125.......Riley Sheahan......................4/7/12 DET vs. CHI 126.....Brian Lashoff................. 1/21/13 DET at CBJ 127........Mike Knuble...............................1/26/13 PHI at FLA 128........Jamie Tardif.................................2/2/13 BOS at TOR 129........Petr Mrazek . .........................2/7/13 DET at STL 130........ Jonas Gustavsson...................2/19/13 DET at NSH 131........Carlo Colaiacovo.........................4/1/13 DET vs. COL 132.......Danny DeKeyser..............10/2/13 DET vs. BUF 133.......Luke Glendening...........10/12/13 DET vs. PHI 134.....Xavier Ouellet................10/21/13 DET vs. SJ 135........Adam Almquist .....................11/4/13 DET at WPG 136........Chad Billins...............................11/5/13 CGY at MIN 137........Patrick Eaves............................12/14/13 DET vs. PIT 138.....Tomas Jurco..................12/15/13 DET vs. TB 139........Jordin Tootoo..........................12/19/13 DET vs. CGY 140........Alexey Marchenko......................1/4/14 DET at DAL 141........Teemu Pulkkinen . ................3/14/14 DET vs. EDM 142........Landon Ferraro........................3/18/14 DET vs. TOR 143.......Calle Jarnkrok....................3/21/14 NSH at CGY 144........Mitch Callahan...........................3/25/14 DET at CBJ 145........Ryan Sproul................................4/13/14 DET at STL 146........Andrej Nestrasil.......................10/9/14 DET vs. BOS 147........Stephen Weiss.......................11/24/14 DET vs. OTT 148.....Mattias Janmark............10/8/15 DAL vs. PIT 149.......Dylan Larkin.....................10/9/15 DET vs. TOR 150...... Kevin Porter...........................10/10/15 PIT at ARI 151.......Andreas Athanasiou......11/8/15 DET vs. DAL 152.....Tomas Nosek...............12/26/15 DET at NSH 153........Eric Tangradi...............................1/25/16 DET at NYI 154.......Anthony Mantha..............3/15/16 DET at PHI 155.....Alan Quine.......................4/9/16 NYI vs. PHI 156.....Martin Frk.................. 10/18/16 CAR at EDM 157.....Tyler Bertuzzi.................11/8/16 DET at PHI 158........Jared Coreau...............................12/3/16 DET at PIT 159.......Nick Jensen........................12/20/16 DET at TB 160........Drew Miller...............................2/28/17 DET at VAN 161........Robbie Russo..............................3/7/17 DET at TORÂ 162........Dan Renouf.............................. 3/27/17 DET at CAR 163.....Ben Street.....................3/28/17 DET at CAR 164.....Evgeny Svechnikov.........4/3/17 DET vs. OTT 165........Matt Lorito.................................4/8/17 DET vs. MTL 166........Kyle Criscuolo.........................11/17/17 BUF at DET 167........Dominic Turgeon.......................1/14/18 DET at CHI 168.....Joe Hicketts.....................1/22/18 DET at NJ 169.....Dennis Cholowski..........10/4/18 DET vs. CBJ 170........Libor Sulak................................10/4/18 DET vs. CBJ 171.....Filip Hronek...................10/4/18 DET vs. CBJ 172........Wade Megan..............................11/1/18 DET vs. NJ 173.....Christoffer Ehn............. 11/6/18 DET vs. VAN 174........Eddie Pasquale............................12/4/18 TB at DET 175........Michael Rasmussen..................2/7/19 DET vs. VGK 176.....Filip Zadina......................2/24/19 DET vs. SJ 177........Matt Puempel..........................3/23/19 DET at VGK 178.....Dylan McIlrath..................3/25/19 DET at SJ 179........Jake Chelios.................................3/29/19 DET vs. NJ 180.....Givani Smith.............. 10/25/19 DET vs. BUF 181.....Calvin Pickard..............11/29/19 DET at PHI 182.....Madison Bowey.......... 12/14/19 DET at MTL 183.....Taro Hirose...................... 2/6/20 DET at BUF 184.....Gustav Lindstrom........... 2/6/20 DET at BUF Bold = Played in the NHL this season (as of Mar. 3, 2020) Italics = Had name engraved on the Stanley Cup after playing for Grand Rapids All photos by Getty Images Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 77

Don’t miss any of the action this season! *All playoff games and when regular season conflicts arise.


A Big Thanks To Our Radio Sponsors For Their Help In Bringing Griffins Hockey To You This Season

78 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Down 1. Michigan Tech (WCHA) 2. Detroit (NHL) 3. Lake Superior State (WCHA) 4. Western Michigan (NCHC) 5. Port Huron (FPHL) 8. Muskegon (USHL) 9. Kalamazoo (ECHL) 10. Saginaw (OHL) 14. Soo (NOJHL)

Down 1. Huskies 2. Red Wings 3. Lakers 4. Broncos 5. Prowlers

8. Lumberjacks 9. Wings 10. Spirit 14. Eagles


There’s a lot more to hockey in the state of Michigan than the Griffins and ed Wings. Including pro teams in the National Hockey League, American Hockey League, ECHL and Federal Prospects Hockey League, junior clubs in the Ontario Hockey League, United States Hockey League and Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, and Division I college squads in the Big Ten, National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Western Collegiate Hockey Association, there are no fewer than 17 high-level teams playing within our borders. How many of their nicknames do you know?

Across 6. Michigan (Big Ten) 7. Northern Michigan (WCHA) 11. Grand Rapids (AHL) 12. Flint (OHL) 13. Battle Creek (FPHL) 15. Michigan State (Big Ten) 16. Ferris State (WCHA)

ANSWERS: Across 6. Wolverines 7. Wildcats 11. Griffins 12. Firebirds 13. Rumble Bees 15. Spartans 16. Bulldogs



Grand Rapids GRIFFINS 79

At age 30, Chris Terry is only the fourth-oldest player on the Griffi ’ roster, so he’s not exactly prehistoric. Still, it was rather fittin when “Terrydactyl” scored a power play goal while wearing one of the Jurassic Park-inspired jerseys for ‘90s Night at Van Andel Arena on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. 80 Grand Rapids GRIFFINS

Photo by Mark Newman


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