Six years later, Griffins’ ‘Road to the NHL’ video provides timely perspective

I have rarely worried about sharing something in my chosen profession as something of a professional news gatherer/recycler/regurgitator. The Grand Rapids Griffins shared an unlisted 13-minute video chronicling the Griffins’ “Road to the NHL,” and I’m worried about the fact that it is unlisted, but this is too good not to share.

Eric Zane narrates this documentary of some of the Grand Rapids Griffins’ 2011-2012 season’s top players, prospects and mentors, and some six years after the video’s publication, it’s a bit sobering to realize how few players actually made the NHL and stuck there.

It’s a good reminder that the dream of making the NHL is elusive, and that player drafting and developing is far from an exact science:

Not everybody makes it, and not everybody sticks.

If you look at the 2011-2012 Grand Rapids Griffins’ roster, Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Brendan Smith and Riley Sheahan are NHL’ers, but only one is with the Wings, and Brian Lashoff and Tom McCollum are still members of the Griffins.

The Griffins’ Swedes are back in Sweden, and the split between alumni who are AHL’ers, European pros or are plain old retired from the game and doing other things with their lives (Willie Coetzee, for example, runs a fitness studio in British Columbia).

Lesson lesson: the reason the Red Wings amassed 11 NHL draft picks last year, 11 picks this year, and had prospects playing on 26 various teams around the world this past season is because drafting and developing is hard work and a massive investment of time, money and energy.

If all of Evgeny Svechnikov, Joe Hicketts, Filip Hronek, Vili Saarijarvi, Filip Hronek, Dominik Turgeon, Axel Holmstrom and Tyler Bertuzzi (arguably the Griffins’ best NHL prospects), it’ll be a frickin’ miracle.

That doesn’t mean that I’m going to cover them with any less enthusiasm this week, and it doesn’t mean that I won’t root for them any less than I already do (and if you spend a lot of time following the Wings’ prospects, you root for all of ’em…

But the reality is that it’s a low-results business at the best of times, and you have to hope against hope that the Wings’ 22 draft picks over the past and this NHL draft turn into 1 or 2 stars and another 3-5 roster players. Add in the Wings’ current prospect corps, and you hope that there’s half a roster over the next 5-8 years.

Anyway, watch the video and give the Griffins credit, because they, like the Red Wings above them, treat every player like they are equally likely to become an NHL star, and that takes guts.


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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

One thought on “Six years later, Griffins’ ‘Road to the NHL’ video provides timely perspective”

  1. Thanks for sharing this video, George. I had forgotten about some of the guys in this video. I can’t believe this was only 6 years ago.

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