The Afternoon Shift – Oct. 28

Todd Nelson

A pair of familiar faces will return to Van Andel Arena on Friday when the Griffins and Oklahoma City Barons stage their first-ever meeting. One became the first player signed by the Griffins franchise way back on July 24, 1996, and is now adding to his impressive coaching resume. The other was an Ottawa Senators prospect who turned pro with the Griffins in 2001 and has been one of the most decorated AHL players in recent years.  

Barons head coach Todd Nelson played 236 games as a defenseman for Grand Rapids over four seasons (1996-98; 99-00; 01-02), totaling 67 points (11-56—67) and 123 penalty minutes, before serving as an assistant coach during the 2002-03 campaign when the Griffins claimed the AHL’s Central Division and Western Conference regular season titles.

Nelson, who still ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders in games played (12th) and plus-minus (plus-53, 6th), most recently was an assistant coach with the Atlanta Thrashers (2008-10), following two seasons as an assistant with the Chicago Wolves (2006-08) and three as bench boss of the UHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks (2003-06). He dealt one of his old teams a blow last night, as the Barons earned a 4-1 win at Chicago’s Allstate Arena.

Two of Oklahoma City’s goals in that game were tallied by left wing Alexandre Giroux, who ranks among the AHL’s early season leaders with six goals (T2nd) and 11 points (T4th). Giroux, who logged 27 points (11-16—27) in 70 games during his lone season in Grand Rapids, won back-to-back Calder Cups with the Hershey Bears the last two seasons as a teammate of current Griffin Greg Amadio and former Griffin Bryan Helmer.

The AHL’s 2008-09 regular season MVP, Giroux led the circuit in goals in both 2009-10 (50) and 2008-09 (60), while finishing second (103 pts.) and first (97 pts.) in the league’s scoring race during those respective seasons.

Here’s hoping both Todd and Alex enjoy their West Michigan reunion. Just not too much.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent links:

Alumni news and notes:

Video: NHL alumni goals

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