In a subscriber-only story, the Detroit News’s Mark Falkner penned a profile of Buffalo Sabres director of player development Matt Ellis, who played for the Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins, regarding the Wings-and-Griffins-learned lessons the AHL veteran will apply to developing Sabres prospects:
“On some teams, a lot of guys do a lot of talking but they don’t walk the walk,” Ellis said. “They get labelled as heroes because they turn it on and off when the time is right. In Detroit, the guys just did it and it wasn’t broadcast all over the place. This is what we do, our habits, our preparation. They aren’t necessarily the sexy things, the work, the sacrifice but when it’s driven internally like that, you have a really good thing going because the people who come in are either on board or they don’t last long.”
Ellis spent six years in the Red Wings’ organization, starting with a 27-goal season with the ECHL Toledo Storm and then another four straight years of improved point production with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins.
Named the youngest captain in Griffins’ history at age 24 in 2005-06, the 6-foot, 210-pound forward went on to become captain with the Portland Pirates and Rochester Americans and registered 21 goals and 28 assists in 356 career NHL games.
“Being a leader and being counted on in Grand Rapids allowed me to grow and gave me the very, very solid foundation and great lessons to draw on to this day,” Ellis said. “The beauty of the organization was the great mentors to look up to, the great players and great staff to look to, to learn from. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Continued (paywall); this article’s about Ellis’ journey as much as anything else, and Griffins fans will tell you that Ellis is easy to root for.