The Afternoon Shift – Feb. 22

Strange Bruin: Chris Kelly/Photo by Getty Images

One item that got lost in last week’s shuffle of four games in five nights was the Feb. 15 trade of former Griffin and longtime Ottawa Senators center Chris Kelly to the Boston Bruins.

Ten years ago this October, Kelly made his pro debut in Grand Rapids as a 20-year-old, contributing six points (3-3–6) in 31 games for the Griffins’ 2001-02 squad that won a West Division title in its first year of AHL membership. As unremarkable as Kelly’s lone season in West Michigan may have been — he also was dispatched to the UHL’s Muskegon Fury for four games — his hard work enabled him to eventually carve out an impressive NHL career.

Renowned for his reliability and defensive skill, he’s also contributed at least 10 goals and 23 points in each of his six full-time NHL seasons, and he should be a great new asset for the Northeast Division leaders.

Kelly’s departure from the Senators marks one step closer to an end of an era, as former Griffins Chris Neil and Jason Spezza – both of whom are also rumored to be on the trading block – are now the only evidence that remains of the three-year affiliation (1999-2002) between Ottawa and Grand Rapids that produced the Griffins’ three straight division titles, a Turner Cup Finals appearance in 2000 and the IHL’s final regular season championship in 2001.

At least the Bruins helped Kelly earn a measure of revenge with a 4-2 win in his Boston debut last Friday. In Ottawa.

And before signing off for today, here’s a simple plug for tonight’s sixth annual Griffins vs. Sled Wings sled hockey game at Griff’s IceHouse: be there. Admission is just five bucks at the door, and you can meet the Griffins and try out a sled on the ice before sitting back and enjoying as a team of teenagers (most likely) whoops professional athletes at their own sport. How often can you see that? Or Frankie Pare tending goal?

More information on the fundraiser, a benefit for the Sled Wings and the Griffins Youth Foundation, can be found on the web sites of the Griffins, Fox 17 and MLive.

Today’s Griffins links:

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goals:

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