Who is that guy? That’s a natural reaction for many fans when they see a recently recalled player skate onto the ice for the first time. When injuries befall the Griffins, or when their bench is depleted due to callups to the Red Wings, general manager Bob McNamara often looks to the ECHL to find players who can ably fill the void until roster situations return to normal.
Many of these talented players stick around Van Andel Arena for only a handful of games before returning to the AA level. Others eventually make the jump full-time to the AHL, either with the Griffins or another team, while a select few join join the 445 ECHL players who’ve scratched and clawed their way to the NHL.
Several current Griffins began their careers in the ECHL. Greg Amadio, Jamie Johnson, Jordan Owens, Sebastien Piche and Jamie Tardif all parlayed that experience into AHL gigs, while Joey MacDonald and Chris Minard used it as a springboard to the NHL.
Many other roster reinforcements end up carving out productive ECHL careers for themselves. Griffins fans may not readily recall the names of Mike Bayrack, Jeff Campbell, Luke Curtin, Ernie Hartlieb, Darrell Hay, Jim Henkel, Jim Jackson, Cail MacLean and Cody Rudkowsky, who combined to appear in 149 games for Grand Rapids. But all nine players were accomplished enough at the ECHL level to earn a spot on the ballot for the league’s All-Decade Team for 2000-2010.
Fan voting for the team is now underway at echl.com and will continue through Halloween. If you feel so inclined, cast your vote to honor those who once wore a Griffins sweater.
Today’s Griffins links:
- Video: Successful Moose hunt (Grand Rapids Griffins)
- Shaw adjusts to life as a Griffin (Grand Rapids Griffins)
- AHL weekly release (AHL)
- Spaling recalled by Nashville (Milwaukee Admirals)
- Dekanich reassigned to Milwaukee (Milwaukee Admirals)
- Amerks claim top spot in the North after busy weekend (Rochester Americans)
Alumni news and notes: