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Red Wings Prospect Gibson Ready to go to Work

Young defenseman learning how to be a pro



Andrew Gibson
Red Wings defense prospect Andrew Gibson is gaining valuable experience with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

While on the one hand enjoying his first experience being around the pro game, Detroit Red Wings defense prospect Andrew Gibson is also embracing the opportunity to go to work.

“In junior, a lot of the guys, we like to have fun,” said Gibson, who spent his season with the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. “Play golf, relax, stuff like that.”

Signed to a contract by the Red Wings at season’s end, Gibson is learning how the upper half of hockey lives as an extra player with the Grand Rapids Griffins during the AHL Calder Cup playoffs.

“In pro, it’s their job,” Gibson said. “Guys are fighting for your job and trying to take your spot.

“Learning from them, seeing what they do and seeing what I need to do for the rest of my life, it’s really good.”

Bittersweet Turnaround For Gibson

In a matter of hours last week, Gibson was living that old Wide World Of Sports axiom. He felt the agony of defeat when the Soo fell in the second round of the OHL playoffs in a Game 7 loss to the Saginaw Spirit.

“It was tough series that went to Game 7 and it didn’t go our way, which was unfortunate,” Gibson said. “I was mad.”

Not long after the letdown came the thrill of victory. Gibson was signing an entry-level pact with the Red Wings, who selected him 42nd overall in the 2023 NHL entry draft.

“I wish I could still be there with the guys, but signing that contract – when I heard the news I was with my teammates and they all congratulated me,” Gibson recollected. “It was good being around them when that happened. It’s great.”

Even though he established career highs this season with 12 goals and 44 points, it was at the other end of the ice where the 6-foot-4, 206-pound Gibson felt he took the most strides.

“I think my defensive game took a huge step this year,” said Gibson, 19. “My stick and my physical play really excelled.

“That’s what they were telling me to work on. I think I really improved on that part of my game.”

Experience Gibson’s Greatest Teacher

As much as he can tell Gibson what he wants him to do, Griffins coach Dan Watson figures the young defenseman will absorb it much more fluidly by seeing the example set by some of the veteran defensemen on the Grand Rapids roster.

It’s as much about life lessons as it is about hockey lessons.

“Just to see how it operates, how everything works at the pro versus the junior level,” Watson explained. “Some of the biggest things are what do you do all day? You get done the day around one o’clock. How do you fill your time? It’s completely different in junior.

“For him, it’s being around guys who are pros. Josiah Didier, Wyatt Newpower, (Brogan) Rafferty. (Radek) Simek is a big one, too. He does the right things all the time.

“Just being around these guys and seeing how they operate on a day-to-day basis, what they do away from the arena – how they eat, take care of their bodies. I think it’s a good eye-opening experience for him.”