In Michigan, hockey is one of our most popular sports. Like most sports, kids get started at a very young age and develop dreams of following in the footsteps of their hometown sports heroes. For some this dream stays just that, but for others, they make the move toward playing professionally. One specific team here in Michigan, the Grand Rapids Griffins, feeds right into the Detroit Red Wings, providing young, skilled players the opportunity to fill in throughout the NHL’s season.
The Grand Rapids Griffins were formed in 1996 and have played in the American Hockey League since 2001. The formation of the Griffins followed behind other Grand Rapids-based amateur teams, like the Rockets and the Owls, but only the Griffins have been affiliated with the Detroit Red Wings. At this point, all NHL teams have AHL affiliations which help younger players grow into playing professionally.
The Big Show
Speaking of playing professionally, not only do these players get a chance to play with the pros as an amateur, they also get the opportunity to move into the pros permanently if they show the right skills. In total, 165 players and goalies have gone on to play at least one game in the NHL. Additionally, 15 Griffins have gone on to win the Stanley Cup including Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, Brett Lebda, Derek Meech, Darren Helm, Tomas Kopecky, Darren McCarty and Chris Osgood.
Even though they are one of the younger AHL teams, the Grand Rapids Griffins have seen recent success in the past five years with winning the Calder Cup in 2013 and 2017, which is basically the Stanley Cup for AHL teams.
Some may wonder what a “griffin” is. As seen in the Griffins logo, it is a mystical creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle. The amateur team has created many iterations of their logo but the griffin typically remains the same.
DTE is a proud sponsor of the Grand Rapids Griffins and encourages you to attend a game in the near future. You never know who you might see move onto the Red Wings roster!