Aaron Downey's attempt to resume his NHL career after sitting out last season ended when the Detroit Red Wings released him among their first wave of cuts. Despite not making it onto the Wings' roster, however, he once again has a job in the organization.â†µ
Downey has been hired as a part-time strength and conditioning coach for the Wings' minor league affiliate in Grand Rapids. He'll work approximately 10 days a month with the Griffins.
"One door closes and another opens,'' Downey said. "My door closed the other day as a hockey player. I went in to see (general manager) Ken Holland and (coach) Mike Babcock and I had to be honest with them. I didn't think I could play anymore. I know in my heart my career is over as a player.''â†µ
Downey has been training young hockey players over the last few offseasons at his farm in Shelburne, Ontario. So this new job won't be unfamiliar to him at all. Downey also knows of what he speaks, having worked hard to become leaner and gain speed while sitting out last season.â†µ
Boosting the strength and conditioning programs throughout the organization is a priority for the Wings, according to coach Mike Babcock. And hiring Downey to work with their minor leaguers falls in with that.â†µ
"We have to improve our strength and conditioning throughout the whole organization, so this is part of the focus,'' Babcock said. "He's obviously a fitness fanatic and knows how to train real well.''â†µ