GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The American Hockey League announced on Thursday that Grand Rapids Griffins coach Jeff Blashill and defenseman Alexey Marchenko have been selected to participate in the 2014 AHL All-Star Classic, which will be held Feb. 11-12 at the Mile One Center in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
The AHL All-Star team, a 20-man squad consisting of the league’s top contributors, will battle Färjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League in a two-day competition. The 2014 All-Star Classic will mark the first time that a Swedish Hockey League team has competed in North America.
Blashill, 40, will be the first Griffins head coach in 12 years to lead an AHL All-Star team, following Bruce Cassidy’s participation in the 2002 AHL All-Star Classic. Blashill will be joined by Rob Zettler, head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, whom the Griffins defeated in the 2013 Calder Cup Finals. In 2012-13, his first season as a head coach at the pro level, Blashill led the Griffins to the Calder Cup, marking the first championship in the franchise’s 17-year history. Blashill was named by the Detroit Red Wings as the ninth head coach in Grand Rapids Griffins history on June 25, 2012.
Marchenko, 22, is just the third rookie defenseman in Griffins' history to be named to the AHL All-Star Team, following in the recent footsteps of Chad Billins (2013), also a member of the 2014 AHL All-Star team representing Abbotsford, and Brendan Smith (2011). The Moscow, Russia, native has had a storybook inaugural season with the Griffins, tallying 16 points (2-14—16), a plus-15 rating - which ties for second among league rookies - and six penalty minutes through 33 games. On Jan. 4, Marchenko finished with a plus-two rating in his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings, becoming the 140th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL.
Both the 2014 AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Tuesday, Feb. 11 and the 2014 AHL All-Star Game on Wednesday, Feb. 12 will be televised live nationally in the United States and Canada.