The Grand Rapids Griffins posted a press release highlighting the Griffins’ ties to both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars, who will face off in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final:
FORMER GRIFFINS TO CLASH IN STANLEY CUP FINAL
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – During the 2002-03 American Hockey League season, Grand Rapids Griffins center Stacy Roest and assistant coach Todd Nelson were integral parts of a team that finished first in the Western Conference and eventually fell one win shy of competing in the Calder Cup Finals. Fast-forward 17 years and they now find their National Hockey League teams pitted against each other in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final.
Roest is the assistant general manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning, who completed a 4-2 triumph over the New York Islanders with Thursday’s 2-1 overtime win. Nelson is an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars, who dispatched the Vegas Golden Knights by a 4-1 series score and boast another Griffins alumnus in center Mattias Janmark.
Thanks to this matchup, a former Griffins player will have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup for the seventh time in the last 13 years and the ninth time in the last 16 seasons, joining the names of 16 Grand Rapids alumni that already adorn the most famous trophy in sports. If the Stars prevail, Nelson would also become the first former Griffins coach to celebrate with the Stanley Cup.
Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Visit nhl.com for the complete series schedule.
Roest only spent that lone 2002-03 season in Grand Rapids but made an indelible mark. After placing third on the team in scoring during the regular season with 72 points (24-48—72) in 70 games, he led the Griffins with 10 goals and 16 points during their playoff run. Roest set the franchise’s single-postseason records by scoring a pair of overtime goals and five game-winning goals in all before Grand Rapids lost to eventual champion Houston in Game 7 of the conference finals.
Nelson’s name is synonymous with the Griffins. The first player ever signed by the club in 1996, he logged four seasons as a bedrock defenseman (1996-98, 1999-2000 and 2001-02) plus that one campaign as an assistant coach (2002-03) before returning to spend three seasons as Grand Rapids’ head coach (2015-18). He led the Griffins to their second Calder Cup championship in 2017, becoming just the third person ever to win the Calder Cup as a player (1994 Portland), assistant coach (2008 Chicago) and head coach, joining Bob Woods and one-time Griffins head coach Mike Stothers. Should Dallas defeat Tampa Bay, Nelson would be the first member of that exclusive trio to win the Stanley Cup and would join the ranks of more than 100 players and coaches who have won both the Calder Cup and Stanley Cup in their careers. He already is just the second former Griffin to coach in a Stanley Cup Final, on the heels of former head coach Bruce Cassidy’s appearance last season with the Boston Bruins.
Janmark, originally the third choice (79th overall) of the Detroit Red Wings in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, made his North American debut with the Griffins in 2013-14, playing two regular season contests before contributing one assist in six playoff games. Now in his fourth full NHL season with Dallas, he shows five assists in 20 appearances during these playoffs after totaling 21 points (6-15—21) in 62 games during the regular season.
Former Red Wings assistant GM Jim Nill is the Stars’ general manager as well, and former Toledo Walleye coach Derek Lalonde is an assistant coach for Tampa Bay.