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THE MAN WHO KNOWS NO FEAR

03/09/2016 1:37 PM -

Mitch Callahan knows how to play hockey only one way – full bore: unflinching, unrelenting and unstoppable.
              
No Fear is an American lifestyle brand that is associated with extreme sports and that helped popularize platitudes like “Pain Is Temporary, Glory Is Forever,” “Second Place Is The First Loser” and “Blood Makes Great Mouthwash.”
              
The action apparel seller usually caters to skateboarders, surfers and motocross competitors, but if the company is ever interested in expanding into hockey, it needs to look no further than Griffins forward Mitch Callahan for a spokesman.
              
Callahan already knows no fear. When you’ve been hit in the face with a puck, not once but twice, and you’re still willing to park your mug in front of the goal with a 100-mph slapshot heading in your direction, you’ve got some guts. And Callahan has plenty.
              
“My favorite spot is in the front of the net,” said Callahan, who has lost track of exactly how many teeth he has actually lost. “It’s my bread and butter, so I try to play with no fear. I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll go into the corners with anybody. I don’t care how big the other guy is. I have more scars than I can count.”
              
Callahan unwittingly displayed his toughness for the whole world to see nearly two years ago when he tweeted a photo of his bloodied mouth after being hit by a Ryan Sproul slap shot. Already missing his two front teeth, he lost seven or eight more and suffered a fractured jaw along with the wrath of his coach, who disapproved of his shocking selfie.
              
Then a week before this past Christmas, Callahan was struck in the face again, this time in practice when a Martin Frk shot deflected off a stick and caught him square in the mouth. He lost another tooth and his jaw was broken in two places.


CROWNING ACHIEVEMENT

Niklas Kronwall
03/09/2016 1:31 PM -

Winning the Stanley Cup was an unforgettable experience for a pair of Griffins alumni who achieved the feat for opposing teams in back-to-back years.

Niklas Kronwall and Mark Eaton played only one season together – and it was only part of a season at that – but the time played a pivotal role in their futures.
              
Kronwall and Eaton were Grand Rapids Griffins teammates during the 2004-05 season. Both would likely have been playing with their respective NHL teams – Kronwall with the Red Wings, Eaton with the Nashville Predators – if a labor dispute between the NHL owners and the players’ union had not forced the cancellation of the NHL season.
              
Bob McNamara, who was the Griffins’ general manager at the time, signed Eaton in midseason after the defenseman was advised by his counsel to ink a contract with a club other than his organization’s minor league affiliate.
              
The move brought the 27-year-old Eaton, who already had 244 NHL games under his belt, together with the 24-year-old Kronwall, who had split the previous season, his first in North America, between Grand Rapids and Detroit.
              
Three seasons later, their respective teams would meet for the first time in the Stanley Cup Finals. Eaton, now playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins but sidelined with a knee injury, would watch as Kronwall and the Red Wings won the 2008 Cup in six games.
              
The two teams met again in 2009 when a healthy Eaton took great delight in helping the Penguins exact revenge by beating the favored Red Wings in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena.


STANLEY CUP WINNERS

Kevyn Adams
03/09/2016 1:24 PM -

More than a dozen Griffins alumni have taken a variety of routes to get their names etched on hockey’s most prestigious trophy.

Kevyn Adams was an alternate captain for the Carolina Hurricanes when his team won the Stanley Cup in 2006, and the thrill of capturing hockey’s most treasured trophy brought back memories of all the things that had happened in his career to get him to that moment.
              
Ten years earlier, he was a member of the inaugural Griffins team. It was his first season, too, having signed his first pro contract with Grand Rapids after failing to come to terms with the Boston Bruins, who had selected him in the first round of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft.
              
Adams said he will never forget a piece of advice that he was given by the Griffins’ first head coach, Dave Allison.
              
“He told me, ‘Kevyn, you’re going to play in the NHL and you’re going to play in the NHL for a long time, but the thing that you’re going to have to really do is to enjoy the moment.’ I worked hard and was always so focused that he reminded me that I needed to sometimes just enjoy the moment, enjoy the ride, and everything else would take care of itself. And I never forgot that.
              
“I tried to do that my entire career, just soak it up and enjoy the moment. Obviously, winning the Stanley Cup is what you dream about from the time that you’re able to put skates on your feet. To be able to fulfill my dream and win the Stanley Cup was like reaching the top of the mountain. I feel very fortunate. It’s definitely the highlight of my career.”


A FAMILY AFFAIR

Mary Theeuwes
03/09/2016 1:15 PM -

Many 20-year Griffins season ticket members see Van Andel Arena as their second home.
              

A season ticket is the passport to memories. For Mary Theeuwes and Shelly Walters, just two of many longtime Griffins fans, the privilege has engendered 20 years of unforgettable experiences.
              
Not surprisingly, winning the Calder Cup in 2013 ranks among their fondest memories.
              
Theeuwes was one of a small but enthusiastic and grateful group who greeted the team bus when it arrived at Van Andel Arena from Gerald R. Ford International Airport at 2:20 in the morning after the Griffins clinched their first championship in Syracuse.
              
“Of all the things in my 20 years of following the Griffins, I’ll probably most remember that night,” Theeuwes said. “We waited so long to see it happen, there was no way I was going to miss it. One of the TV stations interviewed me, but I was crying too hard. I was in tears.”
              
Theeuwes later made a collage of photos taken by a friend of the post-game celebrations with the Calder Cup. “I had the players sign it at training camp that fall and it ended up replacing the family portrait in my living room.”


WORKING MEN

03/09/2016 1:01 PM -

For the final installment of a season-long series celebrating the organization’s 20th anniversary, Griffiti caught up with a hat trick of former Griffins now making their marks in other professions.



A SECOND CALDER
March 09, 2016 12:52 PM

ON A ROLE
January 29, 2016 4:35 PM

SAVING GRACE
January 29, 2016 4:29 PM

POISED FOR SUCCESS
January 29, 2016 4:20 PM

WORKING MEN
January 29, 2016 3:44 PM

MIND OVER MATTER
December 09, 2015 12:05 AM

TOUGH GUYS
December 09, 2015 12:04 AM

TRUSTED ADVISOR
December 09, 2015 12:03 AM

MR. POSITIVE
December 09, 2015 12:02 AM

WORKING MEN
December 09, 2015 12:01 AM

ALL FOR ONE & ONE FOR ALL
October 16, 2015 12:05 AM

EXPERIENCE COUNTS
October 16, 2015 12:04 AM

CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
October 16, 2015 12:03 AM

LIVING THE DREAM
October 16, 2015 12:02 AM

WORKING MEN
October 16, 2015 12:01 AM

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