Toledo Walleye forward Todd Griffith knows how to shake things up.
Griffith, an agitator and energy guy, was acquired in a trade at the end of January to provide a spark to the struggling team. The 27-year-old feisty forward has brought an edge to five ECHL teams over his seven-year minor league career.
ON THE HOOK
with Todd Griffith
Jersey Number: 26
Ht./Wt: 5-11, 181
Hometown: Welland, Ont.
Born: January 27, 1985
Hockey players you admired growing up: Wendel Clark, Steve Yzerman, and Doug Gilmour. I was a Maple Leafs fan. I still am.
Favorite sport other than hockey: I like to watch a good fight. I watch the UFC. But I'm more of a boxing fan. I like soccer, too.Favorite
Type of music: Rap and old school rock.
Favorite food: Steak and sushi. My pregame meal is always chicken parmesan. I've been cooking it for seven years now.
Have you ever eaten walleye?: You mean pickerel? It's my all-time favorite fish. I love to catch it too. But I've been on a drought though.
Best fast-food: Wendy's. I eat a lot of fast-food. I have a very high metabolism. So I lose a lot of weight. I've lost 20 pounds this year. I eat fast-food about twice a week.
Favorite beverage: Liquid Ensure. It comes in little cans. I drink about three or four every day. It's like chocolate milk. It's actually good.
Favorite Movie: The Count of Monte Cristo.
Favorite TV Show: I like cartoons. I like American Dad and Storage Wars.
What is your pet peeve?: When people use the same knife when they have peanut butter and jelly. What if I just want peanut butter? I don't want jelly in my peanut butter.
What song would you like to have played when you score a goal?: I don't have one. When I score I'm so surprised I just make up whatever is going on in my head. I just wave my arms or whatever. Most of the time it doesn't look proper.
Something nobody knows about you: I'm pretty superstitious. I do a lot. After the national anthem is done I give my sticks a pep talk and a kiss. I say, 'Hey let's do this.' If I'm not scoring, I'll [curse at them]. But they're like my babies. I tape them up after every period. I take care of them.
"I like to get under your skin," Griffith said. "I'll get into people's faces. I'm known for keeping people on their toes and into the game."
But Griffith was acquired from Reading on Jan. 29 not only to be an instigator but also for his veteran presence. "I'm not a big guy. But I was brought in to basically be an agitator," said Griffith, who is 5-foot-11 and 181 pounds. "[Coach Nick Vitucci] wanted me to lead by example too. I'll hit somebody. I like when the crowd gets into it."
The oldest player on a young roster, Griffith has provided some offensive punch. He has scored 10 goals in 21 games with the Walleye to go along with six assists.
"It always helps to score goals and I like to do that as much as I can," Griffith said. "But if I'm not scoring goals I have to play a different role and bring that energy. I'll try to block shots and I will fight when I can."
Prior to joining the Walleye, he had collected 100 points (60 goals and 40 assists) in 140 ECHL games. But he had 317 penalty minutes.
"Some guys like [to fight] and some guys don't," he said. "There is a time and place for it. I like sticking up for my teammates."
But he admits he still must work on the defensive part of his game.
"If I had every tool I wouldn't be in the minors," he said.
Griffith, who has spent time in the Central Hockey League and playing in England, said Toledo has been pleasant. "It's not every place in the minors that you get to play in front of 6,000 fans [at the Huntington Center] every night," he said. "It's really nice to see so many people come out even though the team [has struggled]."
Toledo (26-30-6) continues to fade from the playoff picture and remains in last place in the North Division. The Walleye are in the middle of six straight road games and have gone 0-2-1 so far.
While no team has clinched a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and none has been eliminated, Toledo is nine points out of the final playoff spot with 10 games left. "There is always hope," Griffith said. "You never throw in the towel. We have to win pretty much every single game. The playoffs are fun and that is what we play for. We need to put on a show for everyone in Toledo."
He was born in Welland, Ont., the same town where Vitucci grew up. Griffith said he had corresponded with Vitucci over the years in hopes of someday playing in Toledo.
Griffith, who now lives in Toronto during the offseason, said he doesn't plan to retire any time soon. "At the end of the day I play a sport for a living and it's a sport that I absolutely love to play," he said. "My first priority right now is this hockey team. Hopefully I did my job here well and I absolutely want to come back."
Contact Mark Monroe at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6354 or on Twitter @MonroeBlade.