Griffins to have new coach in 2007-08

Greg Ireland, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ head coach since 2005 and a member of their coaching staff since 2003, will not return for the final year of his contract in 2007-08. The Griffins announced the decision on Friday in conjunction with the parent Detroit Red Wings, who have acquired responsibility for Grand Rapids’ coaches under the teams’ new affiliation agreement.

Elevated from assistant coach on Feb. 10, 2005, Ireland compiled a cumulative record of 109-65-8-10, along with a playoff mark of 11-12, in his two and a half seasons as head coach.

“We are very appreciative of the job that Greg did for us as both a head coach and an assistant over the last four seasons,” said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara. “He was named head coach under tough circumstances, and he helped us reach the conference finals in 2006 and return to the playoffs this past season. Greg assisted in the development of many of the young players now with the Red Wings, and he was a tremendous representative of the Griffins throughout the West Michigan community. We are thankful for all he’s done for our organization.”

Assistant coach Jim Paek, who joined the Griffins’ staff in 2005, will return this fall for his third season behind the bench.

The Red Wings and Griffins have begun the process of identifying candidates for Grand Rapids’ seventh head coach in 12 seasons. No timetable for the hiring has been established.

The new head coach will be granted the helm of one of the American Hockey League’s premier franchises. The Griffins and Red Wings have comprised hockey’s most successful affiliation since their 2002 union, combining for more standings points (944) than any other AHL/NHL partnership.