Grand Rapids Griffins are a professional hockey team in the American Hockey League. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Grand Rapids Griffins are a professional hockey team in the American Hockey League. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


“This is like being with the Griffins right now, which is kind of funny,” said Gustav Nyquist when he was called up by the Detroit Red Wings recently. Looking at the Wings’ roster, he couldn’t have been more correct.

Anyone looking at the roster will quickly see that the ever changing list of players for the year has been scattered with names that aren’t necessarily well known around Detroit. Smith, Conner, Nyquist, Brunnstrom, Janick, Anderson, Tatar, Pearce, and MacDonald. A little background work looking into these names will tell you they all have one thing in common: they all come from the Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

When thinking about why this group of players is so important, another list of players comes to mind. Bertuzzi, Kindl, Lidstrom, Ericsson, Datsyuk, and Howard. Names that are known very well around Hockeytown. Many of them known for being the best of the best on the Wings, able to flick the puck effortlessly to win a shootout or move the stick instinctively to stop a puck. But these six players are the ones that, unfortunately, make up the injured list for the Wings.

I know so many fans that jumped off the bandwagon that they were so eager to jump on a few weeks earlier while on the path to making history. They now claim that the Wings have no hope. That with that many key players injured, they would stop winning games and not go far in the playoffs.

Was I worried? Yes…to a point. Talking with a friend the other day we both agreed that as much as it sucks, it’s almost expected of the Wings. Playoff hockey in the air? Perfect time for the Red Wings top players to crack a bone or suffer a groin injury. But, like he does so well, head coach Mike Babcock describes the situation perfectly.

“It’s all about opportunity, isn’t it?” Babcock said. “You can go around feeling sorry for yourself, which is an absolute waste of time, or you can find more players. The bottom line is the guys that aren’t healthy that are trying to play and can’t move, they’re not doing us any good anyway. So let’s have a bunch of guys that are healthy and let’s get after it and find a way to win some games.”

Find more players they did. Since the team broke their home winning streak, they’ve gone 3-4. Not the greatest record, but it could be worse. The team has only suffered each loss by one point, however. Smith, Nyquist, and Quincey have all contributed goals in those games. Quincey isn’t a Griffin, but a new, young player picked up just before trade deadline, and now he’s looking ready to be a Wing.

Regular season ends in just a few short weeks and then we’ll start my absolute favorite time of the year–playoff hockey season. I’m not worried though. Howard is expected back this week with the others soon following. And if something happens to set them back, we’ll be okay. We’ve got our fresh, young players who are proving they’re ready to step up and represent the winged wheel.