GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Red Wings on Wednesday named Mike Stothers as the new head coach for the Grand Rapids Griffins, their American Hockey League affiliate. He is expected to address the media during a press conference Thursday at 12 p.m. inside the B.O.B. in downtown Grand Rapids.
Stothers, 45, becomes the seventh head coach in Griffins history. Prior to serving the last five seasons as head coach for the Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack, he spent 20 years in the Philadelphia Flyers organization as a player and coach.
“We’re very pleased to have Mike join the Red Wings' organization,”Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “Developing young talent has always been important but it has become even more imperative in today’s NHL. Mike has a great background in the AHL both as a player and an assistant coach and as an assistant in the NHL. In the last five years as a head coach in Owen Sound of the OHL, he displayed both the leadership and development skills we were looking for to coach our young players. We’re constantly working to have the best franchises in both Detroit and Grand Rapids and we’re confident that Mike will help us achieve that goal.”
The Flyers’ first-round pick (21st overall) in the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, Stothers is one of a select group that has won the AHL’s Calder Cup as both a player and a coach. He first hoisted the cup as a defenseman for the Maine Mariners in 1984, then repeated the feat as an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Phantoms in 1998.
Following a 10-year playing career that included 30 NHL contests with the Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs, Stothers enjoyed a phenomenal nine-year run as an assistant coach for both the Flyers and their AHL affiliates. During his first three seasons with the expansion Phantoms, he helped guide the club to three straight division crowns (1996-99), consecutive AHL regular season titles (1996-98) and the league’s 1998 championship.
After serving interim stints as an assistant coach with the Flyers during both the 1998-99 and 1999-00 seasons, Stothers worked behind the NHL team’s bench for two full seasons from 2000-02, capping off his tenure with an Atlantic Division title in 2001-02.
In 13 seasons as both a head coach and assistant coach in the NHL, AHL and OHL, his teams have never missed the playoffs. In 480 regular-season AHL games, Stothers has compiled a 257-158-53-12 (0.603) mark, along with a 36-26 (0.581) record in 62 Calder Cup Playoff contests. His career coaching resume shows 502 wins in 984 regular season games, plus 52 wins in 107 postseason affairs.
"For us, it's important that our coach has what it takes to succeed in our league," said Bob McNamara, the Griffins' general manager. "With his experience in the AHL, he understands what players go through in their development and that's important. It's a great fit for both organizations.”
Stothers joins returning assistant coach Jim Paek in preparation for the Griffins’ 12th season overall and their seventh AHL campaign in 2007-08.
Grand Rapids is one of the AHL’s premier franchises. Over the last eight seasons, the Griffins have the most wins (371), points (807), regular-season championships (two), 100-point seasons (four, tied) and division titles (five) of any Triple-A hockey team, and they are the only club to average 100 or more points per season during that span. In addition, the Griffins and Red Wings have comprised hockey’s most successful affiliation since their 2002 union, combining for more standings points (944) than any other AHL/NHL partnership.