Everything on the preseason checklist was pretty much complete when the Griffins’ bus rolled out this morning toward Rockford for Saturday’s season opener against the IceHogs.
Final roster decisions had been made, all the equipment was packed, the game plan was in place, and 30 players, coaches and support staff were on board.
Only one thing on the to-do list remained: appointing the Griffins’ captains for the 2011-12 season. That final piece of business was completed after the team’s practice this afternoon at the BMO Harris Bank Center, when Curt Fraser announced the news to his team.
It wasn’t exactly the stop-the-presses variety.
Four of the Griffins’ five veterans were given leadership positions: defenseman Garnet Exelby was named captain, continuing a role he had, ironically, for Rockford last season. He replaces Jamie Tardif, who served as Grand Rapids’ captain the last two seasons before moving on to Providence over the summer.
A trio of alternate captains were named, with defensemen Greg Amadio and Doug Janik reprising their 2010-11 roles alongside forward Chris Conner.
The selection of Exelby as captain comes as no surprise. In addition to a mean Ron Burgundy impression, he also boasts nearly as many games of NHL experience (408) than his other 22 teammates combined (416), having played seven seasons with Atlanta and Toronto.
If you didn’t follow the bus to Rockford for Saturday’s 8:05 p.m. EDT contest, be aware of a late radio programming change. While Bob Kaser’s call of the action will still be streamed online at espn961.com, the over-the-air broadcast will be heard on WTKG 1230 AM due to Clear Channel’s contractual obligations to both the Detroit Tigers and Michigan Wolverines. The pre-game show will begin at 7:45.
- Griffins to honor memory of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl alumni in 2011-12 (Griffins)
- Griffins begin season 16 in Rockford on Saturday (Griffins)
- Curt’s Corner: Drop the puck (Griffins)
- Rapid progession (Griffins)
- Griffins set to honor memories of players who died in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash (MLive)
- Griffins’ Brendan Smith suspended for three games by AHL for hit he made with Red Wings (MLive)
- Griffins enjoy helping parent Red Wings, but franchise wants AHL success, too (MLive)
- Griffins’ veterans ready to welcome fresh faces (MLive)
- Griffins’ Brendan Smith stays humble amid comparisons to Red Wings’ defensemen (MLive)
- Unleashed: Grand Rapids Griffins again lend their support to MacKenzie’s Animal Sanctuary with “Pups and Pucks” walk-a-thon (MLive)
- Student of the game (Morning Star)
Alumni news and notes:
- Red Wings’ Niklas Kronwall gets third “A” as alternate captain, contract talks continue (MLive)
- Niklas Kronwall will be third alternate captain for Red Wings (Detroit Free Press)
- Red Wings’ rookie Cory Emmerton in lineup for opener, as Patrick Eaves, Fabian Brunnstrom scratched (MLive)
Howard ready to get started (Detroit Free Press)
Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard’s goal is to get better (Detroit News)
- Red Wings’ Jakub Kindl hopes to take advantage of early playing time (MLive)
- Jakub Kindl ‘excited’ about expanded role with Red Wings (Detroit Free Press)
- Kindl can tell no lie: ‘I’m really excited’ (Red Wings)
- Leino never gave up on his NHL dream (NHL)
- Avery clears waivers, assigned to AHL (NHL)
- Sean Avery’s fantasy swan song (NHL)