The Afternoon Shift – April 13

Who's next? / Photo of Tomas Kopecky by Getty Images

As the quest for the Stanley Cup begins tonight, there’s a 50-50 chance that a former Griffin will once again be holding the coveted chalice when the dust settles in June.

In a remarkable streak that testifies to the caliber of talent that has graced Van Andel Arena over the years, a Griffins alumnus has had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup each of the last three years and in five of the last six seasons. In all, 13 players have won the Cup after playing for Grand Rapids, most recently Chicago’s Tomas Kopecky, who last June became the first alum to win his second Cup.

Eight of the 16 team participating in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs have at least one ex-Griffin on their roster. Most notable, of course, are the Red Wings, who for the first time in history could ice a lineup comprised completely of Griffins alumni. If they wanted or needed to, of course.

With Monday’s recall of a staggering 15 Griffins to serve as black aces, Detroit now boasts 25 former Griffins on its 39-man playoff roster, including all five goaltenders. Of course, the vast majority of black aces will never see action, less than half will travel with the Wings, and several will soak up the atmosphere around the Joe for only a week or so before heading home for the summer. But whether they start every night between the pipes or simply practice and watch a couple of games from the press box, they’ll all play a part in another glorious spring in Hockeytown.

The other seven playoff teams with former Griffins are Anaheim (Sheldon Brookbank and Andreas Lilja), Boston (Shane Hnidy and Chris Kelly), Buffalo (Matt Ellis and Patrick Lalime), Chicago (Tomas Kopecky), Los Angeles (Scott Parse), the New York Rangers (Sean Avery) and Philadelphia (Ville Leino and Danny Syvret). And should needs arise or AHL teams get bounced before their NHL affiliates, that list could eventually expand to include Montreal (Drew MacIntyre), Nashville (Chris Mueller) and/or Tampa Bay (Mattias Ritola).

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL links:

Alumni news and notes:

Video – NHL alumni goals:

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