Born February 25, 1987 (age 24) in Muskegon, Michigan, USA
Left winger for the Detroit Red Wings
I’m going to do a little “keep you enemies closer” kind of thing for the next two days, beginning with this guy. Justin attended Mona Shores High School and received the Mr. Hockey award for being Michigan’s best high school hockey player. From there he played for the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders before being selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2005 draft. After leading the RoughRiders to win the Clark Cup, he headed to Michigan State University, where he scored the game-winning goal in the 2007 Frozen Four final against Boston College. In 2008 he signed a one-game tryout with the Red Wings and played that night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The next day, he signed a three-year contract with Detroit and forfeited his last year in college.
He began the 2008-09 season playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, becoming one of their best offensive players. Then he got his big break, being called to Detroit to take Tomas Kopecky’s place in the 2009 Western Conference semifinals against the Anaheim Ducks, where he got his first point on an assist to Johan Franzen. During the finals against Pittsburgh, he got his first goal against Marc-Andre Fleury when he caught his own rebound in mid-air and snuck in the puck. He scored his next goal the very next game, something that hadn’t been done in consecutive finals games since 1981.
The 2009-10 season saw him play 50 games with the Red Wings, and they liked him so much they signed him to a two-year extension beginning with last season. That was his first full season as a Red Wing, earning 19 points (7 goals, 12 assists) in 74 games and only 61 penalty minutes total. This season looks just as promising for him.
Justin is of Arabic descent – his paternal grandfather emigrated from Jordan at the age of 19 and settled in Michigan, changing his name from Yusef Abdul Qadir to Joseph Abdelkader. The last name in Arabic means “servant of the powerful,” and those who try to get in his way will become the servants of this very powerful young man.