It wasn't until about three years ago that Griffin Luce truly understood just who his grandfather was. Sure, he'd grown up watching the highlights – the backhand goal against the Red Army in 1980 and a 1975 fight against Mario Tremblay stand out – and he does remember grandpa bringing him down to the locker room after games when he was a member of the Sabres' front office.
But it took time before Griffin Luce understood the gravity surrounding his grandfather, Don Luce, and the career he had while playing for the Buffalo Sabres.
"More and more people started asking about my grandfather," Griffin said at the NHL Scouting Combine, "and about how growing up he was there and how I guess he became part of the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame."
Don Luce spent nearly 10 full seasons with Sabres in the 1970's and his 527 points with the team rank seventh in franchise history. He was inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame in 1986 and spent over a decade as the team's Director of Player Personnel.
Now, Griffin will have one more memory in the building where his grandfather took him to all those games growing up. Ranked No. 70 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, he's expected to be selected during the 2016 NHL Draft at First Niagara Center on Friday or Saturday.
"It's very special," he said. "To be able to come here and have both the Combine and the Draft here, it's a really special feeling. I mean, there's a lot of history here in Buffalo and it's a great hockey town. It's just really awesome to have it here."
Unlike his grandfather, who played center, Griffin is a defenseman who prioritizes his own zone. He values his shutdown role against other teams' top lines and his willingness to sacrifice his body on the penalty kill, and he'll have the opportunity to round out his game even more when he attends the University of Michigan next season.
But Luce's hockey influences go beyond his grandfather. His father, Scott Luce, was a member of the Florida Panthers' scouting department since 2002 until he was relieved of his duties in May. A family connection also allowed Griffin to form a relationship with former Sabre Danny Briere growing up.
The connections paved the route for Luce to get where he is today, but it was up to him to take advantage of them.
"Obviously it's huge," he said. "I can't say that I owe them full credit because obviously I have to put in the work. But, I mean, growing up it helps because you know how to get here and how to stay here. If you do that then you'll be best off."