Colorado Rubber

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Serving as captain for AHL’s Griffins ‘a huge honor’ for Littleton native, Hawks, T-Birds alum Didier

 

Josiah Didier has pretty much done it all in the AHL, but he’s not done yet.

The Littleton native was part of the Calder Cup-winning Charlotte Checkers team in 2019 and served as captain the past two seasons with the Providence Bruins.

This season, the 30-year-old Didier wears the ‘C’ for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the top affiliate for the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, and wants to guide the team back to AHL glory.

“Being named captain of the Griffins was a huge honor to me,” said Didier, who grew up playing for the Littleton Hawks and Colorado Thunderbirds. “Especially it being my first season here with the team, it shows the trust and confidence that management and the coaching staff has in me to help lead this team. It’s always tough at first when you come to a new team and organization, but they wanted to bring me in for a reason. That, in turn, gives me a lot of confidence to know that what I am doing both on and off the ice is making an impact.”

Didier said being captain in Providence helped with the transition to western Michigan.

“I think I learned that different players need different things and what works for one isn’t going to work with others,” Didier said. “So just knowing when and what to say to different guys to try and help them and boost their confidence is something that I’ve brought with me here. Especially being a young team, they react in different ways, so finding the right ways to motivate and get through to the guys. Also, being close as a team is something that is the most important to me, so just getting the guys to hang out together as much as we can away from the rink will help bring us closer as a team and that will lead to more success on the ice.

“I’ve learned that the teams that I’ve been on that have the most success are the teams that are the closest and become a family.”

Now in his ninth season of pro hockey after four years at NCAA Division I Denver from 2011-15, Didier said he still has NHL aspirations. He was originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the fourth round (97th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.

“Of course, I’m still chasing that dream of playing in the NHL,” said Didier. “Even if it never happens, I have no regrets. I know that I’m still giving it my all and doing everything that I can to try and make it. I just love the grind and try to push myself to get better every single day. I’m so lucky to be able to play this game as a job and never want to take that for granted. As an older guy in the league now, if I can be an influence and a mentor to some of my younger teammates and help them get to the NHL, then I know I did my job.”

Looking back on his youth hockey days back home and how the landscape has changed since then, Didier said there are numerous positives that have contributed to the growth of the game in Colorado.

“I think the biggest positive change that has had to most impact on the growth of the game has been the involvement of current players and teams giving back to the community,” Didier said. “I feel now more than ever teams and players are getting involved more in the community with the youth players, whether it’s going to skate at a practice or just helping out somewhere. I think the young kids getting to interact and see their favorite players outside of a game in the local rink or at an event has been huge. The kids being able to see these players that they look up to up close makes them want to be just like them some day. I think us as players have taken on the role of being a role model and someone that the kids look up to really well, and I think it has led to great growth of the game.”

The 2023-24 AHL season in full swing, Didier said he has but one goal this year.

“My goal every year is to win the Calder Cup again,” said Didier. “After winning it once, I want to win it even more again. That is obviously the end goal for us as a team and something that we strive for every day. It’s a long season and we just have to continue to put in the work day in and day out and continue to get better every single day. I think getting this team back into the playoffs and restoring the winning culture that the Red Wings organization has had is what will make it a successful season both for the team and for me personally.”

Photo/Nicolas Carrillo/Grand Rapids Griffins

— Matt Mackinder

(December 7, 2023)

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