DetroitRedWings.com’s Arthur J. Regner speaks to Grand Rapids Griffins forward Eric Tangradi in his latest “Red and White Authority” podcast, discussing hockey with the Griffins’ 25-goal-scoring power forward…
And Regner duly notes that the Red Wings have kept Tangradi in the organization for the past three years for more than his hockey chops:
“Unfortunately, the NHL life is totally different than juniors, totally different than the AHL,” Tangradi said. “When guys leave the rink, they leave, you don’t see a lot of people outside the rink.
“I didn’t have that support system, I didn’t have somebody I could lean (on) and it was really hard going back to the hotel room at 21 years old. At times I just turned the lights off and watched a movie because you’re so upset with the way things are going.”
As he became older and bounced around from organization to organization, Tangradi never forgot how he felt as a youngster playing for the Penguins’ AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
“At 29 now and being part of this (Detroit) organization for three years, I’ve seen guys in this locker room, the Manthas, the Athanasious, the Bertuzzis, those are guys that I’ve seen at times have such high expectations and struggle here,” Tangradi said. “I take pride I was the first guy to go over to them and make sure they got their confidence back that they were playing the right way.
“Hopefully, I left a lasting impression on them that helped them move on to the next level. Those are all guys I played with down here when they (the Red Wings organization) were trying to get them out of funks.
“I put them (under) my wing and gave the guidance I wish I had when I was young.”
Regner continues, and it is essential for the Wings to have a leadership group in both Detroit and Grand Rapids to show “the kids” how to approach life as a professional hockey player.