10/18/2013 12:03 AM
The Calder Cup passed from player to player as it journeyed across North America this summer.
In 1994, the New York Rangers started a tradition that enables each member of the Stanley Cup-winning team to retain the trophy for a day.
No such tradition officially exists for the Calder Cup, the trophy awarded to the champions of the American Hockey League and named for Frank Calder, who served as the first president of the National Hockey League from 1917 to 1943.
When Jeff Hoggan won the Calder Cup as a member of the Houston Aeros in 2003, his time with the second-oldest actively awarded professional ice hockey playoff trophy was limited. "You didn't really get to savor it," he said. "You just got ready for the next year."
So when Grand Rapids won its first Calder Cup, Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill felt it was time for a new tradition.
"Blash thought it would be great if a few guys could spend some time with it," said Hoggan, who served as captain of the 2012-13 championship team. "So we had a great summer, even if it was short."
Logistics and timing prevented the Calder Cup from traveling overseas, but the trophy made its way across North America, going from Marysville, Mich., the home of Chad Billins, to Whittier, Calif., a city about 12 miles southeast of Los Angeles, where Mitch Callahan spends his summers.
10/18/2013 12:02 AM
Red Wings prospect Martin Frk has a lot of what hockey scouts call upside. To realize his potential, he will have to listen, learn and labor his way through the development process.
People are not born hockey players any more than people are born artists, writers or doctors. Some people may be naturally more creative or think more scientifically than others, but ultimately it's experience – perseverance, practice and purpose – that allows one to rise in a chosen profession.
As a top prospect of the Detroit Red Wings, Martin Frk has a lot of natural ability. Ask Frk (pronounced ferk) about his cannon-like shot and he will tell you that he has no explanation for it, almost as if he was born with a hockey stick in his hands and could blast pucks through the back of the net at birth.
"I don't really know," Frk said. "I didn't do anything special – nothing at all. It just came like that."
Frk wasn't born with skates on his feet, but he came close.
Growing up in the Czech Republic, he went skating on a lake with his father for the first time when he was only 2-1/2 years old. His first practice was when he was three, and he didn't exactly embrace the notion of playing organized hockey.
"My dad said I didn't like it," Frk chuckled. "When my parents bought my first gear, they said I didn't like wearing it because I only liked skating in my pants, which is kind of funny now. Fortunately, I got to like hockey as I got older."
10/18/2013 12:01 AM
Now in his second season with the Griffins, Red Wings prospect Tomas Jurco is craving an opportunity to play in Detroit.
Tomas Jurco is one hungry hockey player.
In the figurative sense, the hunger alludes to his appetite for competition, his push to play in the NHL someday. In a literal sense, it means he misses his mother's cooking.
For Jurco, being thousands of miles from his home in Slovakia is the same as being a long way from a good meal.
He’s learning to play hockey in the tighter rinks of North America, but he struggles with the tightening he feels in his stomach when he thinks of going months without his mother’s szegedin gulás and knedl'a (Slovak stew and dumpling), zemiakové placky (potato pancakes), jaternica (sausage) or kapustnica (sauerkraut soup).
"I miss it, for sure," he said. "When I come home, she puts everything on the table, and I like anything my mom cooks. Now when she reads this, she will be so proud that she will go into the kitchen and cook something, even if there is no one home."
03/13/2013 12:05 AM
Rookie goaltender Petr Mrazek has sparkled during his first professional season.
When Petr Mrazek won his debut in a Red Wings uniform, his Detroit teammates could hardly contain their enthusiasm.
“He's awesome," said forward Cory Emmerton, who was one of five Red Wings to score in the 5-1 road victory over the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 7. "I didn't really know what to expect, but he was great. He had no problem playing the puck. He looked very confident. He made huge stops.”
"Mrazek did a great job in net, very stellar, calm back there,” said defenseman Niklas Kronwall. "He never really panicked whatsoever. I thought he was square to the puck all night, kept control of the rebounds. I thought he looked really good.”
"He played well,” said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock. “He really handles the puck well. That makes it easy for the D. The other thing I liked about him is he didn't generate second chances for them. The puck wasn't coming off him. It was soft; it was under control. Good for the kid. It's not an easy league to play in.”
Mrazek, who was a week away from his 21st birthday, became the youngest goalie to start for the Red Wings since Chris Osgood was 20 years, 10 months, 19 days old when he made his 1993-94 debut.
03/13/2013 12:04 AM
Red Wings prospect Riley Sheahan has come to realize that he has been given the chance to do something that very few are able to achieve.
Life is what you make it.
Growing up, Riley Sheahan and his older sister Karli were encouraged to participate in sports by their parents, Mike and Peggy, who were both physical education teachers in St. Catharines, Ontario.
“We always had access to gyms when we were young,” Sheahan recalled. “At times, I was more into basketball than hockey because both my parents were basketball coaches. My mom even played basketball at a Canadian university.”
As the family was living north of the 49th parallel, however, it was almost inevitable that Sheahan would eventually gravitate toward hockey. “Most of my friends were playing hockey and I eventually realized that I was better at hockey than I was at basketball.”
While his sister turned her sights on rowing (she earned a scholarship to the University of Texas), Sheahan focused on hockey, eventually playing Junior B hockey in his hometown and earning the attention of the University of Notre Dame.
Although he visited Boston College, Sheahan admits there wasn’t much debate about where he was headed. Coming from an Irish family, Notre Dame seemed a natural fit.
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