Thursday, June 16, 2011

Another Griffins Alum Adds Name To Stanley Cup

For the fourth straight year and the sixth time in the last seven seasons, a former Grand Rapids Griffins player will have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup.

Center Chris Kelly, who began his career with the Griffins in 2001-02, earned the honor thanks to the Boston Bruins' 4-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 on Wednesday. After joining the Bruins in a Feb. 15 trade from Ottawa, Kelly was one of their more consistent playoff perfromers, posting 13 points (5-8--13) while appearing in all 25 games. He finished sixth on the team in scoring and he ranked among the NHL's postseason leaders in points (T20th), plus-minus (+11, T3rd) and shooting percentage (17.9, 19th).

Kelly recorded six points (3-3--6) in 31 games during the Griffins' final season as the Ottawa Senators' top affiliate. He eventually played parts of seven NHL seasons with Ottawa, racking up 176 points (75-101--176) in 463 games and making his first trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007.

The names of 13 Griffins alumni already adorn the most famous trophy in sports. Las June, Thomas Kopecky became the first former Griffin to win his second Stanley Cup, as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks. Mark Eaton became lucky alumnus no. 13 with Pittsburgh in 2009; Detroit's Valtteri Filppula, Darren Helm, Jiri Hudler, Kopecky, Niklas Kronwall, Brett Lebda, Darren McCarty, Derek Meech, and Chris Osgood were added to the cup in 2008; Kevyn Adams won it with Carolina in 2006; and both Dmitry Afanasenkov and Darren Rumble captured the chalice with Tampy Bay in 2004.

Two other former members of the Griffins organization joined in the celebration of Boston's triumph. Reserve defenseman Shane Hnidy, who appeared in only three games with the Bruins during both the regular season and early rounds of the playoffs, played parts of two seasons (1997-98, 2000-01) in Grand Rapids. Bruce Cassidy, the assistant of the AHL's Providence Bruins, who complemented Boston's staff during the postseason, spent two seasons as the Griffins' head coach, leading them to the IHL's final regular season championship in 2000-01 before earning AHL Coach of the Year honors 2001-02.