GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Griffins, the city’s American Hockey League franchise, hired a head coach today for the upcoming season that had a tie to the DeVos family and spent more than three years as a head coach in the National Hockey League.
Griffins General Manager Bob McNamara announced at a morning news conference that the franchise had come to terms with Curt Fraser, who will guide the primary affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings this season.
“Curt was one of the guys we targeted right off the bat. We believe he is the ideal guy,” said McNamara.
Dan DeVos, who owns the majority share of the team with his wife Pamella, told the Business Journal that he has been trying to bring Fraser to the franchise for the past few seasons.
“We finally landed him,” said DeVos.
Fraser joined the Atlanta Thrashers as head coach in the NHL franchise’s inaugural year in 1999 and coached the club for three- and-a-half seasons. Before that, he was an assistant with the New York Islanders and the St. Louis Blues, both in the NHL.
The tie Fraser had with the DeVos family ran from 1995 through 1999 when he served as head coach of the Orlando Solar Bears, an International League Hockey franchise that Rich DeVos owned. In Orlando, he led the team to the Turner Cup finals in 1996 and 1999. He also coached the Milwaukee Admirals, then in the IHL, from 1992 through 1994. He won at least 40 games every season and compiled a winning percentage of 62.5 percent in the IHL.
“I really enjoyed working with the DeVos family in Orlando with Rich DeVos and look forward to working with Dan here,” said Fraser.
The Griffins hired Fraser this season. The Red Wings hired Mike Stothers to coach the team last year and the Griffins missed the playoffs. Stothers was let go in June when the Griffins reacquired the coaching responsibilities from the Red Wings.
Jim Paek will continue to serve as the club’s assistant coach. The Griffins hired Paek in 2005.