Thanks to the Detroit Red Wings’ 3-2 win in Game 6 at Pittsburgh on Wednesday and their 4-2 series victory over the Penguins, the Stanley Cup will soon be engraved with the names of eight former Grand Rapids Griffins, including some of the greatest players in the history of the AHL franchise.
Niklas Kronwall, Jiri Hudler, Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Darren McCarty, Brett Lebda, Chris Osgood and Tomas Kopecky each earned the right to have his name added to the Cup, either by playing in the Stanley Cup Final or, in Kopecky’s case, by appearing in at least 41 games during the regular season.
This octet joins three players who previously went on to win a Stanley Cup after playing for the Griffins, including Carolina’s Kevyn Adams in 2006 and Tampa Bay’s Dmitry Afanasenkov and Darren Rumble in 2004.
The Griffins have served as the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate since 2002-03 and have sent 31 players on to Hockeytown over the last six seasons.
D Niklas Kronwall – Stanley Cup Playoffs: The fearsome hitter was also a prolific point producer, ranking fourth on the Red Wings, 10th in the NHL (tied) and first among all defensemen with 15 points (0-15—15) in 22 games. His team-high 15 assists, including a pair during tonight’s clinching contest, placed second overall in the NHL and ranked first among blueliners, and his plus-16 rating tied Conn Smythe Trophy winner Henrik Zetterberg for tops in the league; Griffins: Scored 66 points (15-51—66) in 102 games from 2003-06, ranking fourth all time in scoring among Grand Rapids defensemen. Named the AHL’s Outstanding Defenseman and a First Team All-Star in 2004-05, when he led the Griffins in scoring and set a single-season franchise record (since broken) for points by a blueliner with 53. Selected to play in the AHL All-Star Classic in both 2004 and 2005.
F Jiri Hudler – Stanley Cup Playoffs: Tied for fifth on the Red Wings and 15th in the NHL with 14 points (5-9—14) in 22 games. He tied for seventh in the league with two game-winning goals, including the Game 4 clincher against Pittsburgh that ended the Penguins’ 17-game Mellon Arena winning streak and gave Detroit a 3-1 series lead; Griffins: Scored 179 points (65-114—179) in 185 games from 2003-06. Ranks among the team’s all-time leaders with 65 goals (6th), 114 assists (5th), 179 points (5th), 19 power play goals (7th), 13 game-winning goals (T3rd) and four overtime goals (1st). Holds franchise records for assists in a season (60 in 2005-06), assists in a game (5, tied), assists in a period (3, tied) and points in a period (4). Named an AHL Second Team All-Star in 2005-06. Played in the AHL All-Star Classic in both 2004 and 2006. Named the AHL’s Player of the Week on Oct. 17, 2005.
C Valtteri Filppula – Stanley Cup Playoffs: Had 11 points (5-6—11) in 22 games, including the Wings’ second goal tonight and an acrobatic, highlight-reel tally that capped off Detroit’s scoring in its Game 2 win. His plus-seven rating tied for 10th in the NHL; Griffins: Scored 74 points (22-52—74) in 77 games from 2005-07. Ranks among the team’s all-time leaders with a 0.159 shooting percentage (6th). Holds the franchise record for longest assist streak (8 games). Played in the 2006 AHL All-Star Classic. Named the AHL’s Player of the Week on Nov. 21, 2005.
C Darren Helm – Stanley Cup Playoffs: The Red Wings won nine straight playoff games after he entered the lineup and went 14-4 overall. He scored his first NHL goal in Game 2 of the conference final against Dallas and another in Game 5 versus Pittsburgh, and his four points (2-2—4) tied for fifth among NHL rookies; Griffins: Led Grand Rapids rookies with 16 goals, 15 assists (tied) and 31 points in 67 games during the 2007-08 season, tying for the ninth-highest scoring total by a first-year Griffin.
RW Darren McCarty – Stanley Cup Playoffs: Had two points (1-1—2) in 17 games; Griffins: Scored 10 points (5-5—10) in 13 games with Grand Rapids in 2007-08. During his Van Andel Arena debut on Feb. 15, he tallied his second career hat trick and first four-point game.
D Brett Lebda – Stanley Cup Playoffs: Had two assists in 19 games; Griffins: Scored 31 points (6-25—31) in 111 games from 2003-06.
G Chris Osgood – Stanley Cup Playoffs: Posted a 14-4 mark and ranked among the NHL’s leaders with a 1.55 goals against average (1st), 14 wins (T1st), a 0.930 save percentage (3rd) and three shutouts (T1st); Griffins: Appeared in three games during a conditioning stint in 2005-06, going 2-1 with a 3.34 GAA and a 0.882 save percentage.
LW Tomas Kopecky – Stanley Cup Playoffs: Spent the entire postseason on injured reserve (knee); Griffins: Scored 138 points (63-75—138) in 243 games from 2002-06. Ranks among the team’s all-time leaders with 243 games played (7th), 63 goals (7th), 75 assists (T9th) and 138 points (8th). Holds franchise records for goals in a period (3, tied) and assists in a period (3, tied). Named the AHL’s Rookie of the Month for Feb. 2003.