The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/19/13 at 11:45 AM ET
Updated 2x at 3:18 PM: The Grand Rapids Griffins captured the Calder Cup in Syracuse last night, and before holding a fan-centric celebration at Van Andel Arena this evening (6 PM EDT, doors open at 5 PM), the Griffins partied hard last night, and their celebrations continued into the morning:
Congratulations continued to flow in as well...
Amongst the other Game 6 tailings:
- Up front, you might imagine that the Syracuse Crunch are still devastated by their loss, and they stated as much to the Syracuse Post-Standard's Brent Axe. Ditto for owner Howard Dolgon;
- In the multimedia department, part 1: the Post-Standard, WOOD TV8 and Fox 17 posted photo galleries;
- WZZM posted a pair of auto-play videos, Fox 17 posted both a team celebration video and a downright gushy and must-watch clip of Francis Pare's celebration...
(you'll have to pause the clip after it's done or it will roll on to what's next on the playlist)
- WOOD TV8 posted a clip from the Griffins' trip back to GR on Red Bird III and their arrvial at home:
- Griffins play-by-play man Bob Kaser admitted that he got a bit verklempt while speaking to the Grand Rapids Press's Dean Holzwarth...
“Thirty-four years of doing this, and I live and die with my team every year,” Kaser said. “I describe myself as a fan with a microphone in front of my mouth, and you just can't take the fan out of me. This is incredibly emotional because you are in the trenches with these guys every day and you become friends, and the admiration and respect I have for this team, with all due respect to the past 33 I've worked for, this is by far the best group of players, coaches and support staff I have worked with. You could not want it more for a group of players and coaches than I did for this team.”
Kaser, working with longtime color commentator Larry Figurski, became choked up when Joakim Andersson scored on an empty-netter with 5.1 seconds remaining to seal it. An emotional Kaser said the following on air before the final buzzer sounded and the celebration ensued:
“There is nothing more gratifying, Larry, as a player, to go through what this team has gone through, but how about Griffins hockey fans, 17 years of Griffins hockey, lots of success and memories, but nothing like this. Something that will last a lifetime. Nothing more indelible than what is going to happen in 5.1 seconds, your Grand Rapids Griffins are going to claim the American Hockey League's 77th Calder Cup title.”
Kaser, who was named vice-president of community relations and broadcasting in 2007, said after the game that his emotions were more tempered than he anticipated.
“I'm a very emotional person to begin with, and I thought I would actually be more emotional then,” he said. “I think most people that are passionate about something like I am, how can you not be emotional? I see the sacrifices our players and coaches make, the ownership, the front office. It's absolutely incredible what goes into 100 games.”
Like so many others, Kaser was disappointed the Griffins could not wrap up the title at home. He'll take it nonetheless.
“In a perfect world, that would've been the way to go, but you can't be greedy,” Kaser said. “We got a championship after 17 years. The perfect scenario would've been winning it at home, and that's what made the loss in Game 5 so crushing. We still felt like we could win it, but we were not going to do it in front of our fans. But they will get the cup (Wednesday) and the days ahead. It's an amazing feeling right now.”
- And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner duly noted that Tomas Tatar played with a, "I should'a been in Detroit" chip on his shoulder throughout the 2012-2013 season, and the AHL's Jack A. Butterfield Trophy winner as the playoff MVP rode that chip to a command performance in both the regular season and playoffs, as well as an all-but-certain graduation to the Red Wings on a full-time basis:
The left winger who scored 16 goals and 21 points certainly passed his final test en route to an opportunity to join the Detroit Red Wings next season.
He scored twice in the Game 6 clincher, including an empty netter, to secure a 5-2 victory against Syracuse that gave the franchise its first championship. Afterward, the 22-year-old drank champagne from the Calder Cup Trophy and the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy emblematic of the series MVP.
“My stick was hot, and lots of my shots I tried to throw it on goal (that) ended in the net, and sometimes it’s just like that,” Tatar said. “Sometimes you’re cold and sometimes you’re hot. I’m just glad I timed it right and we could win the whole thing.”
It capped an impressive postseason for Tatar. He scored three times in five games against Houston, had seven points (5-2-7) and scored the game-tying goal in Game 6 against Toronto; three goals in the Oklahoma City series, and five in six games against Syracuse.
"Tatar’s one of those guys all year that I saw that when the game’s on the line he just seemed to get better and better,” said coach Jeff Blashill. “He’s got that kind of character and mental toughness. He really wants to win, and learned how to handle his emotions.”
He scored in his first NHL game in 2010, but never saw the ice in Detroit again until this season. He had seven points (4-3-7) in 16 games before returning March 10 to make room for Gustav Nyquist, another top prospect.“I think I showed I could play up there, too. So I’m just going to wait for something to happen, or just wait for something to happen for next season,” he said at the time. There is no doubt the one-time teenager is a graduate. Now it’s just a matter of where the Red Wings can fit him.
“It all depends on the camp,” Tatar said. “Detroit organization has one of the best teams in the world and to make that team is really hard. … I mean, I tried my best all four years here in Grand Rapids, so I think this is the payoff.”
Update: From the Nottingham Post:
FORMER Nottingham Panthers' double Stanley Cup winner Jim Paek is celebrating again.
As the longest-serving coach in Grand Rapids Griffins history, the club's assistant coach capped his eighth season with the tier two American Hockey League side by helping them win the Calder Cup for the first time.
The Calder Cup is the AHL equivalent of the legendary Stanley Cup which Paek lifted with Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.
Paek was also part of the Detroit Red Wings backroom staff in 2008 during the Griffins' parent club's Stanley Cup triumph.As the first Korean-born player to win the Stanley Cup, his shirt now hangs in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The defenceman joined Panthers in 2000, playing 110 SuperLeague games over three seasons – one of those years was alongside Jamie Leach, another Penguins' Stanley Cup winner.
He is still in regular contact with Panthers general manager Gary Moran, who said: "I am thrilled for one of my favourite players.
"Alongside my family, Jimmy was the quickest to congratulate us in Belfast when we won our first league title. He's always interested in how Panthers are doing and was also one of the first to ring me when we completed the grand slam. Quite simply, he's a class act on and off the ice and I couldn't be happier for him. It couldn't happen to a nicer bloke."
Update #2: The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner captured quips and quotes from the players and coach:
JEFF BLASHILL: First-year coach
“I’m just real excited for our players who just had an unbelievable amount of determination all year. Real excited for our ownership and our organization. A lot of people have given a lot for a long period of time and they should be able to enjoy this."
His thoughts in the closing moments:
“I was being a coach right to the end. So I was trying to get our guys to calm down after they scored that empty-netter and to keep playing until the buzzer. But our guys were obviously pretty excited. Then it was a real good moment. I couldn’t wait to get off the ice and call my wife and say congrats to her. My family has been a big part of my life off the ice and I want them to enjoy it.”
JEFF HOGGAN: Captain who has been playing since 2001-02
“This is so fulfilling. I’d say satisfying, but it’s more than that. Seventeen years and to have a championship for the city, that’s just awesome. I just look at some of these guys (teammates) and to see this ... this is what it’s all about. This is the best part.”
TOMAS TATAR: MVP of the playoffs
“I’d been here four years and never even made the playoffs until this year … it would be hard to imagine before the season that we’d play like this and stick together like this. The whole organization worked perfectly – finding coaches, players and everybody having a role. People from the office … this is a special feeling and we’re just enjoying it.”
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