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10/07/2010 6:46 PM -

This Week’s Games
Fri., Oct. 8 - Abbotsford Heat at GRIFFINS - 7 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM /

Sun., Oct. 10 - GRIFFINS at Rockford IceHogs - 5:05 p.m. - ESPN 96.1 FM /

It All Starts Here: The Griffins will commence their 2010-11 campaign on Friday when they host the Abbotsford Heat at 7 p.m. at Van Andel Arena, marking the first time they open the regular season on home ice since 2005. Grand Rapids enters its 15th season overall, its 10th in the AHL, and its ninth as the Detroit Red Wings’ top development club.

Grand Opening: Tickets are still available for Friday’s game, which is expected to mark the Griffins’ 15th consecutive home-opening sellout. Purchase them at Fans will enjoy the first Dollar Beers, Dollar Dogs promotion of the season, and the first 7,500 will receive Griffins glow bams, courtesy of Comcast. Jaded 8 will perform live music on the concourse from 6-7 p.m., and the pre-game festivities will include a laser light show and a performance by renowned bucket drummer Peter Rabbit. After the game, 5,000 fans will receive a Griffins 2010-11 Clingz schedule as they exit the arena, and fans can bring their skates and take to the ice for the Post-Game Open Skate. For complete promotional details, click here.

For Starters: Grand Rapids is 10-2-2-0 all time in season openers, having earned points in seven straight debuts (5-0-2-0). The Griffins, who are 9-5 all time in home openers, won their first game at Van Andel Arena in both 2009 and 2008 under coach Curt Fraser. This Sunday in Rockford, they will attempt to earn at least one point in their road opener for a remarkable 12th consecutive campaign (9-0-2-0) and add to their impressive overall mark of 10-2-2-0 in their first road game.

At the Helm: Griffins general manager Bob McNamara begins his 15th season with the club…Curt Fraser starts his third campaign as head coach, showing a mark of 77-64-9-10 as Grand Rapids’ bench boss. Signed to a new two-year contract in August, Fraser ranks first among active AHL coaches in NHL head-coaching experience with 279 games, and he is the only current AHL bench boss to have over 200 games of NHL experience as both a head coach and a player on his resume. Currently fifth all time among Griffins head coaches in both regular season games coached (160) and regular season wins (77), Fraser is set to surpass leader Danton Cole’s 208 games coached in the 49th game of the 2010-11 season, while a 40-win campaign would enable him to eclipse Cole’s 116 career victories for the most in franchise history…The longest-tenured coach in franchise history, Jim Paek returns for his sixth season as the Griffins’ assistant coach.

NHL Alumni: The NHL’s season-opening rosters contain the names of 24 former Griffins, who are playing for 13 of the league’s 30 teams: Anaheim (Sheldon Brookbank), Buffalo (Patrick Lalime), Chicago (Tomas Kopecky), Colorado (Kyle Quincey), Detroit (Justin Abdelkader, Jonathan Ericsson, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Jimmy Howard, Jiri Hudler, Jakub Kindl, Niklas Kronwall and Chris Osgood), Florida (Mark Cullen-IR), Los Angeles (Scott Parse-IR), New York Islanders (Mark Eaton), New York Rangers (Sean Avery and Todd White), Ottawa (Chris Kelly, Chris Neil and Jason Spezza), Philadelphia (Ville Leino), Tampa Bay (Mattias Ritola) and Toronto (Brett Lebda-IR).

Who Will Step Up?: The Griffins begin the 2010-11 season without the services of three of their top four point producers from last season: Hartford’s Jeremy Williams (first with 32-31—63), AHL Chicago’s Patrick Rissmiller (second with 20-25—45) and Tampa Bay’s Mattias Ritola (tied third at 19-23—42). Grand Rapids’ top three returning scorers are Jan Mursak (tied third at 24-18—42), Francis Pare (fifth at 16-23—39) and Cory Emmerton (sixth at 12-25—37).
Detroit Exports: Twenty-three Red Wings-contracted players are on the Griffins’ 25-man roster, including goaltenders Joey MacDonald, Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce; defensemen Travis Ehrhardt, Doug Janik, Sergei Kolosov, Brian Lashoff, Derek Meech, Sebastien Piche, Logan Pyett and Brendan Smith; and forwards Joakim Andersson, Willie Coetzee, Cory Emmerton, Ilari Filppula, Jamie Johnson, Chris Minard, Jan Mursak, Jordan Owens, Francis Pare, Brent Raedeke, Jamie Tardif and Tomas Tatar.

Signed and Sealed: Only two players on the current roster are under contract to the Griffins: defenseman Greg Amadio and right wing Kyle Rogers (PTO).

We’re Getting the Band Back Together!: Three “newcomers” to the Griffins’ roster played significant roles for Grand Rapids’ 2005-06 squad that won the AHL’s regular season title. Defenseman Derek Meech contributed 20 points (4-16—20) in 79 games, fellow blueliner Greg Amadio had 140 penalty minutes to go with three assists in 64 appearances, and goaltender Joey MacDonald posted a 17-9-2 mark with two shutouts, a 3.13 GAA and an 0.897 save percentage in 32 games.

Fresh Faces: Ten members of the Griffins’ season-opening roster skated elsewhere in 2009-10. Here’s a brief look at each of the new arrivals:

• Greg Amadio – A member of the Griffins from 2004-06, he helped Grand Rapids claim the AHL’s regular season crown in 2005-06 then won consecutive Calder Cups with the Hershey Bears the last two seasons;
• Joakim Andersson – The 21-year-old Swede is beginning his first full season in North America. Detroit’s second pick in the 2007 draft, he made his Griffins debut late in the 2008-09 season and helped Grand Rapids reach the North Division Finals, registering three points (1-2—3) and four PIM through 10 playoff contests;
• Ilari Filppula – The older brother of former Griffin and current Red Wing Valtteri Filppula, he was named the Finnish Elite League’s playoff MVP last season before signing a one-year contract with Detroit. The Filppulas become the fourth set of brothers to have played for the Griffins, joining the Brookbanks (Sheldon and Wade), the Millers (Kelly, Kevin and Kip) and the Nelsons (Jeff and Todd);
• Jamie Johnson – Rochester’s leading scorer last season, he appeared in all 80 games for the Amerks and ranked among the AHL’s leaders and set career highs with 27 goals (T18th), 44 assists (T14th) and 71 points (T11th);
• Joey MacDonald – The Griffins’ all-time leader in shutouts (16) returns to the organization for which he starred from 2002-07. After logging 72 NHL games in the interim, he’s looking to reclaim several of the franchise’s career goaltending records from Jimmy Howard, as he ranks second to the current Red Wing in games played (186-164), minutes played (10,659 to 9,208), wins (90-88) and saves (4,849-4,251);
• Derek Meech - A member of the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup championship team in 2008, he contributed six points (2-4—6) for Detroit last season while setting NHL career highs with 49 games played and 19 PIM. A mainstay on Grand Rapids’ blue line from 2004-08, he has accumulated 65 points (17-48—65) and 165 PIM in 230 career games with the Griffins. In 2006-07, his last full season with the club, Meech earned a spot on the Canadian AHL All-Star team;
• Chris Minard – Coming off a season with Springfield in which injuries limited him to just 40 games, he’s looking to regain his form from 2008-09 when he led Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with 34 goals. He served as a ‘black ace” on Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup champion squad in 2009;
• Brent Raedeke – A rookie out of Brandon of the Western Hockey League, he made his debut with the Griffins late in the 2008-09 season, going scoreless in two games;
• Kyle Rogers – The third-year pro was invited to the Griffins’ training camp and signed a pro tryout on Thursday. He appeared in 67 games for AHL Toronto last season, contributing 10 points (5-5—10);
• Brendan Smith – One of the most highly touted rookies to ever play for the Griffins, he led all NCAA defensemen in scoring last season as a junior at Wisconsin, totaling 52 points (15-37—52) in 42 games. The 27th overall pick (by the Red Wings) in the 2007 draft helped the Badgers reach the championship game of the 2010 Frozen Four at Ford Field in Detroit.

The Waiting is the Hardest Part: Four-time Stanley Cup champion Kirk Maltby was assigned by the Red Wings to the Griffins on Wednesday, but Detroit is giving him the weekend to decide his future. Maltby has been a Red Wing for longer than the Griffins have been in existence, having joined the franchise in a trade from Edmonton on March 20, 1996. Once a member of the famed "Grind Line," he has totaled 260 points (128-132--260) in 1,072 NHL games, including 908 in Hockeytown. Maltby turned pro with the AHL's Cape Breton Oilers in 1992-93, scoring 45 points (22-23--45) in 73 contests. His only other AHL stint since then was a four-game turn with Cape Breton three years later.

Welcome Back: Fifteen players from the Griffins’ 2009-10 edition are on their season-opening roster: goaltenders Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce; defensemen Travis Ehrhardt, Doug Janik, Sergei Kolosov, Brian Lashoff, Sebastien Piche and Logan Pyett; and forwards Willie Coetzee, Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak, Jordan Owens, Francis Pare, Jamie Tardif and Tomas Tatar.

Oh Captain, My Captain: For the second straight season, Jamie Tardif has been named the Griffins’ captain. Greg Amadio, Doug Janik and Derek Meech will serve as alternate captains.

Tell Me What It Takes: Several players and coaches for the Griffins have won major championships in North America at the pro, college or major junior level. Derek Meech won a Stanley Cup with Detroit in 2008, along with a Memorial Cup with Red Deer in 2001. Chris Minard served as a “black ace” with Pittsburgh during its Cup run in 2009 and claimed the ECHL’s Kelly Cup with Alaska in 2006. Greg Amadio won back-to-back Calder Cups with Hershey the last two seasons to go with his CHL President’s Cup with Memphis in 2003. Other cup winners include assistant coach Jim Paek (Stanley Cup – 1991 and 1992 Pittsburgh, IHL Turner Cup – 1989 Muskegon and 1999 Houston) and Doug Janik (NCAA – 1999 Maine). In addition, Ilari Filppula was named the Finnish Elite League’s playoff MVP last season after leading TPS Turku to the title, while both Brian Lashoff (U.S. in 2010) and Logan Pyett (Canada in 2008) won the World Junior Championship.

Do You Feel a Draft?: Eleven of the Griffins’ 25 players were once selected in the NHL Entry Draft, including nine who were tabbed by the Red Wings. Brendan Smith (27th overall by Detroit in 2007) and Thomas McCollum (30th overall by Detroit in 2008) were both chosen in the first round, while Derek Meech was taken by the Red Wings’ with the 229th pick in 2002. For just the second time in their nine seasons as the Wings’ affiliate, the Griffins have a pair of first-round Detroit draft picks on their roster (2009-10: McCollum and Jakub Kindl).

NHL Experience: Four Griffins have combined to play 412 regular season games in the NHL, including 73 last season: Doug Janik (174/13), Derek Meech (126/49), Joey MacDonald (72/6) and Chris Minard (40/5).

Veteran Roll Call: AHL clubs may dress up to five veteran skaters with more than 260 games of experience in the NHL, AHL or European Elite leagues, plus another with 320 or fewer games played. The Griffins currently have six veterans in Greg Amadio, Ilari Filppula, Doug Janik, Jamie Johnson, Derek Meech and Chris Minard.

Newbies: Five players on Grand Rapids’ roster are classified as AHL rookies: defensemen Brian Lashoff, Sebastien Piche and Brendan Smith, and forwards Willie Coetzee and Brent Raedeke.

One For the Ages: The average age of the Griffins is 24 years and three months, two months younger than the average for their 2009-10 opening roster. Doug Janik and Joey MacDonald are the oldest players at 30 years each, while five have yet to reach their 21st birthdays: Tomas Tatar (19), Willie Coetzee (19), Brian Lashoff (20), Brent Raedeke (20) and Thomas McCollum (20).

Where Are They Now?: Fourteen of the 27 players from the Griffins’ 2009-10 season-ending roster now find themselves in other locales, including Detroit (Justin Abdelkader and Jakub Kindl), Tampa Bay (Mattias Ritola), AHL Chicago (Patrick Rissmiller), Hartford (Jeremy Williams and Brandon Wong), Sweden (Daniel Larsson/HV-71 and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen/MoDo), Italy (John Vigilante/Asiago), and WHL Everett (Landon Ferraro). In addition, Paul Crosty, Brad May and Ryan Oulahen have retired, while Riley Armstrong’s whereabouts are unknown.

Griffins’ Coaching Cradle: Five former players or coaches for the Griffins are currently involved in hockey operations with other AHL squads, including Peoria head coach Jared Bednar (1998-99), Providence assistant coach Bruce Cassidy (HC 2000-02), Toronto assistant coach Derek King (1999-01, P/AC 2002-04), Oklahoma City head coach Todd Nelson (1996-98, 1999-00, 2001-02, AC 2002-03), and Lake Erie general manager David Oliver (2000-01).

Scouting Report

Fri., Oct. 8 vs. Abbotsford Heat – Van Andel Arena – 7 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 6:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at, free audio available through All-Time Series: 2-2-0-0 Overall, 2-0-0-0 Home. Season Series: First of four meetings overall, first of two in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Calgary Flames. Head Coach: Jim Playfair (2nd season). Notes: For the second straight year, Abbotsford provides the opposition for the Griffins’ home opener…During their inaugural 2009-10 season, the Heat finished third in the North Division with a 39-29-5-7 record…After upsetting Rochester in seven games in the North Division Semifinals, they lost to top-seeded Hamilton 4-2 in the North Division Finals.

Sun., Oct. 10 at Rockford IceHogs – Rockford MetroCentre – 5:05 p.m.
Radio: ESPN 96.1 FM at 4:45 p.m. Web Casts: Video web cast at, free audio available through All-Time Series: 5-8-2-1 Overall, 2-3-2-1 Road. Season Series: First of six meetings overall, first of three in Grand Rapids. NHL Affiliation: Chicago Blackhawks. Head Coach: Bill Peters (3rd season). Notes: The Griffins were dominated during their 2009-10 series against the IceHogs, finishing 1-6-1-0 overall and 0-4 at Van Andel Arena…After placing third in the West Division at 44-30-3-3 last season, Rockford was swept by Calder Cup runner-up Texas in the West Division Semifinals...IceHogs forward Wade Brookbank served as a defenseman for the Griffins during the 2001-02 season.

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