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McNamara leaves Griffins after 15 seasons

by Randy Cleves / Detroit Red Wings
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – After serving 15 seasons as the only general manager in Grand Rapids Griffins' history, Bob McNamara on Thursday announced that he will not return for the 2011-12 season, looking instead to pursue new opportunities in the hockey world.

McNamara guided the Griffins to aggregate records of 627-448-135 (0.574) during the regular season and 45-47 (0.489) during the playoffs while helping advance 117 players to the NHL. Since 2000, the Griffins have claimed five division titles and earned regular-season championships in both the American Hockey League (2005-06) and the International Hockey League (2000-01).

“It’s been a great run over the last 15 years, beyond what I could have imagined when I came to Grand Rapids,” said McNamara. “But as difficult as it is to leave this organization, it’s time for me to look for a new challenge.

“Staying in one place for so long doesn’t happen very often in our industry, and I’ve been very fortunate to work with outstanding players, coaches and front office staff and enjoy the incredible support of Griffins fans. Most of all, I’d like to thank [owners] Dan DeVos and David Van Andel for the opportunity they gave me, the trust they placed in me, and the friendship they showed me throughout the years,” added McNamara.

“We are extremely appreciative of everything Bob has done for our franchise dating back to our inaugural season in 1996-97,” said DeVos, the Griffins’ president and CEO. “He has been one of the key people involved in helping create and sustain our franchise’s reputation for excellence. From being named the IHL’s General Manager of the Year during our first season, to reaching the Turner Cup Finals in 2000, to winning four consecutive division titles, Bob has established an impressive record of success and served as the face of our team.”

“While we are sad to say goodbye to Bob, we know that he will continue to find success in his career,” added Van Andel, chairman of the Griffins. “Bob not only has been a valued colleague, but also a great friend. We wish nothing but the best for Bob and his family in whatever the future holds next for them.”

After careful consideration of both McNamara’s departure and the changing dynamics of the sport, the Griffins have opted to forego hiring a new GM. Instead, they’ll work with the Detroit Red Wings to implement the model used by nearly all of the AHL’s 30 teams, in which the NHL club has primary responsibility for the hockey operations of its AHL affiliate. Under this new structure, various day-to-day responsibilities of the GM will be reassigned within the Griffins organization.

“Our affiliation with Detroit has evolved to the point where the Red Wings supply nearly all of our players,” said DeVos. “Over time they’ve taken on greater responsibilities and a larger and more active role in our hockey operations, so we’re confident it will be a seamless transition to this new model.”

Nine years into an affiliation that runs through the upcoming 2011-12 season, the Griffins and Red Wings have begun discussions regarding modification and extension of the current agreement, with one of the primary goals being to structure a relationship that will foster on-ice success for both the Red Wings and the Griffins.

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