On Saturday, Van Andel Arena will witness the return of arguably the most accomplished trio of former Griffins to ever face Grand Rapids as teammates.
It’s a tough thing to state absolutely, just given that eight ex-Griffins played for the Binghamton Senators in a 2-2 tie at Van Andel Arena on Jan. 15, 2003, the season after Grand Rapids’ affiliation with Ottawa ended. That Senators squad included the likes of:
- Jason Spezza and Chris Kelly, now both long-time NHLers but then in just their first and second full seasons of pro hockey, respectively;
- Alexandre Giroux, the 2009 AHL MVP who was still waiting to fully make his mark on the league’s scene, and;
- David Hymovitz, who finished second on the Griffins with 48 points in 80 games during the 2001-02 season.
While many in that group eventually achieved tremendous heights, they hadn’t collectively accomplished a great deal during their prior stints as Griffins. That certainly can’t be said about the three Chicago Wolves players who will come huffing and puffing into Grand Rapids tomorrow.
The most recent crossover is Patrick Rissmiller, who like Hymovitz ranked second on the Griffins in scoring during his one campaign here, but who tallied his 45 points in just 63 games last season.
Next is Darren Haydar, the once-and-current member of the Wolves who was named by The Hockey News as the AHL’s Player of the Decade for 2000-09. He paced the Griffins with 80 points during his lone season in 2008-09, helping Curt Fraser’s first club advance to the second round of the playoffs by contributing 11 points in 10 playoff games. Following Haydar’s 2009-10 exile to Lake Erie, during which he became the Griffins’ 109th NHL alumnus by playing one game for Colorado, he’s back in the city where he won his second Calder Cup (2008) and leads the Wolves with 10 points.
Last but certainly not least is goalie Drew MacIntyre, who played two seasons for the Griffins (2004-06), most notably backstopping Grand Rapids to series-clinching wins over both Toronto and Manitoba during the 2006 playoffs. His career save percentage (0.940) and goals against average (1.62) during the postseason still stand as franchise records, and he continues to own the team’s regular season mark for most saves in a home game, with 45 versus Houston on Nov. 5, 2004 – exactly six years ago today.
MacIntyre became Griffins NHL grad no. 88 by appearing in two games with Vancouver in 2007-08. Despite playing for three of Grand Rapids’ fiercest rivals over the last five seasons – Manitoba (2006-08), Milwaukee (2008-09) and Chicago (2009-present) – he’ll always hold a place in local fans’ hearts for his stellar playoff performances as a Griffin.
Today’s Griffins links:
- Two of a kind (Cory Emmerton and Jan Mursak) (Grand Rapids Griffins)
- Too cool for school? (Grand Rapids Griffins)
- Griffins defenseman Brian Lashoff hopeful of return from separated shoulder (MLive)
- Guiding Light Mission distributes winter supplies with Griffins’ help (WZZM 13)
Alumni news and notes:
- Video: Jason Spezza post-game (Ottawa Senators)
- Wings happy to welcome back injured defensemen (NHL)
Video: NHL alumni goals