It's not the morning skate we were hoping for, but there is professional hockey tonight with plenty of recognizable (and easily-pronounced) names on the roster as the Red Wings' AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins start their season against the Milwaukee Admirals. The Admirals are the farm team of the Nashville Predators so, naturally, screw them.
The game starts at 7pm tonight at the Van Andel Arena.
The Griffins finished last season with 77 points, leaving them fourth in their North Division and 13th in the Western Conference. Last season's Griffins' coach Curt Fraser left the organization to join the Stars and was replaced by Jeff Blashill, who was one of Babcock's assistants for the Wings.
The Griffins will start the season with at least two players who otherwise wouldn't be on their roster in Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith. Tomas Tatar was expected to be in the competition for a spot on the Wings, but with the overabundance of forwards on the big club, I don't think he would have been expected to make it out of camp. Other Griffins with NHL experience include Joakim Andersson, Riley Sheahan, Thomas McCollum (1 game), D-man Nathan Paetsch (167 NHL games), and Jeff Hoggan.
The Griffins' opponent, the Milwaukee Admirals finished 2nd in the Midwest Division last season and, while they scored 35 fewer goals than the Griffins, they also allowed 59 more. The Admirals played all of three playoff games before being eliminated by Abbotsford. Early this season, the Admirals will be bolstered by the additions of Jonathon Blum and Gabriel Bourque
Head over to Griffinshockey.com for more information about tonight's game, as well as upcoming games and promotions.