The Afternoon Shift – Nov. 1

Preview of coming attractions? / Photo by Getty Images

Should he make his Red Wings debut as expected tonight against Minnesota, Gustav Nyquist will become the 118th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. Detroit is looking for some offensive punch and, with enough ice time, the help of linemates Johan Franzen and Todd Bertuzzi, plus a little luck, Nyquist could certainly provide that. He could also accomplish something that precious few players in Griffins franchise history ever have.

Fifty-eight of Grand Rapids’ 117 NHL alumni made their NHL debut after first playing for the Griffins, including 47 skaters. Of those, only four tasted the sweet icing of their first NHL goal while taking their first bite of the NHL cake, and all of them did it as members of the Red Wings.

The Griffins began play in October 1996, but wasn’t until nine years later — Oct. 5, 2005 — that a Grand Rapids alum lit the lamp in his NHL debut, when Brett Lebda did the honors in Detroit’s 5-1 win over St. Louis. He accomplished what 22 skaters who preceded him could not.

By comparison, the other three occurrences have come in relatively lightning-quick fashion, starting with Ville Leino, who scored the first goal in 4-2 loss at Washington on Jan. 31, 2009.

Amazingly, the last two Griffins to score in their NHL debut were the last two Griffins skaters to make their NHL debut.

Last New Year’s Eve, Tomas Tatar’s third-period goal forced overtime in an eventual 4-3 loss to the New York Islanders. Three weeks later, on Jan. 22, Cory Emmerton scored the first goal — Detroit’s only tally — in a 4-1 setback against Chicago.

Nyquist’s chances of becoming No. 5 seem pretty strong given his fast start with the Griffins (four goals, five assists in nine games), his expected linemates and anticipated power play time tonight, and the fact he scored three goals and added two assists in five preseason games with Detroit. He authored two goals and an assist in a 3-2 win over Pittsburgh in the preseason finale on Oct. 2 — his last game with the Winged Wheel on his chest. 

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL link:

Alumni news and notes:

NHL alumni goals:


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s