Oct. 7, 2011
Trevor Parkes and Louis-Marc Aubry will take the ice for the first time as professional hockey players when they suit up for the Grand Rapids Griffins this season. The two rookies signed with the Detroit Red Wings last fall within weeks of one another, Parkes on Sept. 23 and Aubry on Nov. 9, pushing each other on and off the ice in their final season of junior hockey through this past off-season in order to prepare for the challenging transition into the world of pro hockey.
Although the road ahead will be an arduous one, Parkes and Aubry have repeatedly shown the progression needed to be effective in the pro ranks.
“Both Louis and Parkesy have been here a couple years at these prospects camps and every year – every time I’ve seen them – they’ve improved,” said Griffins head coach Curt Fraser. “Both of them have been good in the summer at Red Wings prospects camp, and they’ve been good in Traverse City. When they went to the Red Wings camp, they did some real good things.”
The duo skated together for two seasons with the Montreal Juniors in the QMJHL. Last season, Parkes led the Juniors in scoring, racking up 62 points (33-29—62) in 60 games. Aubry was limited to 35 games due to injury, but contributed 25 points (13-12—25) before returning to score five goals in 10 playoff contests.
“All season [2010-2011] we knew we’d be here next year, so after practice you tell each other, ‘let’s go work out,’ because we need to gain strength. Next year is going to be pro level, and it’s good motivation to work out and fun to be together,” said Aubry.
Parkes looks well-prepared for his transition to the AHL. The Fort Erie, Ontario, native has good size at 6-2, 188 pounds and has been instructed to keep adding muscle to his frame while he learns how to apply that strength in game situations.
“A lot of it is working out in the gym, getting stronger that way. But it’s also mentally learning how to use your body to protect the puck in the corners. Because in the pros you have to play against men, and I feel I can do that and add to my game to get to the next level,” said Parkes.
To reach that “next level,” Parkes has absorbed as much as he can from the Griffins’ and Red Wings’ top players. “Just watching guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, the way they use their body, protect the puck and hold onto the puck; a lot of patience, and that’s what I’ve been trying to input into my game which I think can help me a lot and get me to produce at that level,” said Parkes.
Since joining the Griffins, Parkes has started putting the pieces together quickly. While Fraser admits there’s still a lot for the young forward to learn, he has been impressed with what he’s seen so far.
“Parkesy is a big strong kid, in fantastic shape; gosh, he can score,” said Fraser. “He’s done some really good things.”
Aubry adds considerable size to the line-up at 6-4, 205 pounds, having finally stopped growing vertically after springing up to his current height over the past few seasons. Aubry shot up a total of eight inches after measuring in at 5-8 as a 15-year-old prior to the 2006-07 season. Now focused on filling out his lanky frame, Aubry has seen his efforts in the weight room pay dividends.
“I gained 10 pounds this summer, so I’m starting to fill. I gained 15 to 20 pounds since the draft,” said Aubry, the youngest player on the Griffins’ opening night roster at 19 years and 10 months.
Increasing his physical strength is one of the key goals the Griffins coaching staff has set out for Aubry, but Fraser likes other things that the native of Arthabaska, Quebec, brings to the team. “Louis is highly skilled, he’s got good hands, does lots of things right and still has another year of juniors he could play,” said Fraser.
That year of juniors won’t be necessary for Aubry, however, as the son of former Red Wings forward Pierre Aubry has been able to acclimate quickly to the fast play and high level of physical fitness professional hockey demands.
“It’s a big change from juniors to the AHL, a huge step and both of these guys seem to be transitioning very nicely,” said Fraser. “We have two real special kids there and we’re looking for big things out of them. Both are going to play a big role in the success of our team in the future.”
Only time will tell what kind of impact Parkes and Aubry have in Grand Rapids, or eventually Detroit, but if their current progression is any indication, both young guns could be influential Griffins before too long.
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