Detroit Red Wings extend relationship with Grand Rapids Griffins for 5 years

Detroit Free Press

A geographically sensible affiliation will continue for at least another five years.

The Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins have had a symbiotic relationship for two decades, one that on Monday was extended through at least the 2026-27 season. It gives the Wings an American Hockey League affiliate that is within a couple hours driving distance, making it easy for management to keep an eye on top prospects. The Griffins benefit from having players such as Moritz Seider and Joe Veleno in the lineup, even if it’s only for a season or so.

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Usually it’s players that between the Wings and Griffins, but when then-Wings coach Jeff Blashill was in COVID-19 protocol last December, Griffins head coach Ben Simon filled in behind Detroit’s bench. 

The 20-year-old affiliation has covered the most successful run in Griffins’ franchise history, highlighted by the first two championships in the history of professional hockey in Grand Rapids in 2013 and 2017.

“Grand Rapids continues to be a model franchise both on and off the ice and we’re excited to continue our partnership,” Wings general manager Steve Yzerman said in a statement. “The winning culture established by the Griffins is extremely beneficial for the development of our young players and the fans in Grand Rapids do a tremendous job creating an exciting atmosphere to support the growth of our players.”

The trip between Detroit and Grand Rapids can be done in a little more than two hours, weather and construction permitting. Compare that to when the Wings’ AHL affiliate were the Adirondack Red Wings, located in Glen Falls, N.Y., which was a nine-hour drive, or required a trip to the airport. At the start of the 1988-89 season, Bob Probert and Petr Klima were suspended for missing a scheduled flight to New York to join the farm club, where they’d been demoted for separate violations of team rules (Probert overslept and missed a team flight from Detroit to Chicago; Klima overslept and was an hour late for a practice.)

Among the Wings prospects expected to be in Grand Rapids next season are recent draft picks Elmer Soderblom, Albert Johansson and Eemil Viro.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail.

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