American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the Grand Rapids Griffins and the city of Grand Rapids have been awarded the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic. The announcement was made at a press conference at Grand Rapids’ Van Andel Arena.
“The league’s recent expansion has allowed us to bring the excitement of AHL hockey to new fans in new markets,” said Andrews. “Grand Rapids is one of the foremost franchises in the league, and we are proud to reward the Griffins and their fans with the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic.”
Van Andel Arena opened in 1996 and seats nearly 11,000 spectators for hockey. Grand Rapids joined the AHL in 2001, and in their first year of competition captured the N.R. (Bud) Poile Trophy as the league’s West Division champions. Changes abounded in 2002, beginning with the hiring by the Washington Capitals of reigning AHL Coach of the Year Bruce Cassidy. The Griffins then entered into an exciting new affiliation agreement with their cross-state neighbors, the Detroit Red Wings, transforming the city of Grand Rapids into “Hockeytown West.”
“The Griffins organization is honored with our selection to host the 2004 AHL All-Star Classic,” said Dan DeVos, owner and president of the Grand Rapids Griffins. “We’ve worked hard to establish ourselves as a premier AHL franchise in less than two years, but it’s really our fans who have earned this extraordinary event through their tremendous support of the Griffins.”
Also unveiled at the press conference was the logo for the event. The logo, in Griffins team colors of gold, navy, silver and red and featuring the Grand Rapids skyline and the Grand River, can be seen on theahl.com.
The 2004 AHL All-Star Classic will feature the top young talent in the American Hockey League, competing in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition and the AHL All-Star Game. Of the 262 players to take part in the AHL All-Star Classic since 1995, more than 92 percent have competed in the NHL, including Tyler Arnason, Eric Boguniecki, Valeri Bure, Anson Carter, Pavol Demitra, J.P. Dumont, Mike Dunham, Patrik Elias, Martin Lapointe, Mattias Norstrom, Steve Sullivan and Jason Williams.
The 2003 Dodge AHL All-Star Classic is set for February 2-3 in Portland, Maine. The event will be broadcast to nearly 50 million homes on more than a dozen regional AHL television partners in the United States and Canada.