M.J. Graham Retires, Named River Dragons Quebec Scout
The Columbus River Dragons announced today that all-time leading scorer M.J. Graham will retire from playing and become the team’s Quebec Scout.
An integral part of the River Dragons 2020-21 championship season, Graham has been a part of the team for all three seasons in the FPHL. He served as assistant captain for multiple seasons and will retire with a total of 39 goals and 70 assists for 109 total points with Columbus.
“On behalf of my family and the entire River Dragons organization, we would like to thank M.J. for his fierce loyalty and passion for success,” said Ignite Sports and Entertainment COO Jeff Croop. “We wish him well in his new role and know his incredible work ethic will carry him to the top.”
The 29-year-old Graham played more games with the River Dragons than any other team over the course of his professional career, finishing at almost a point-per-game pace with 109 points in 111 games played. He also scored eight points in eight career playoff games with the franchise.
“Since day one when Jay (Croop) called me, it’s been an incredible three years… winning a championship here,” said Graham. “It’s been the best three years of my life. I wouldn’t change any of it.”
Graham also reflected on his role in building the team’s success.
“I was in Montreal when (Jay) called me and said he wanted me to be a part of (the team). He said I was the first guy he called! I came down and the rest is history. I’m grateful to Jay for getting a chance to help build the franchise and shape the style of hockey and bring that to the fans of Columbus - the best fans in the league, hands down.”
After praising the River Dragons faithful, Graham also thanked the community, the organization, its ownership, front office and head coach Jerome Bechard, about whom he said challenged him to be not just a better hockey player, but a better person.
Coach Bechard also noted, with appreciation, what Graham brought to the team every day.
“M.J. has been a huge part of our success as an organization, both on and off the ice,” he said. “On the ice, M.J. demonstrates his skill and work ethic, combined with grit and physical play. He can beat you by scoring goals, and he can also pound you into the ground when need be.”
“I am so proud of the person M.J. has grown into over the past three years,” Bechard continued. “He has grown into making the people around him better, whether that be a teammate or just a person in need.”
Graham’s teammate Jay Croop said he’ll miss not seeing his friend and linemate in the locker room.
“M.J. has been here with me from day one,” he said. “The memories we created in Columbus will always have a huge place in my heart. Winning a championship with him was something I’ll never forget. It’s going to be tough not having one of my best friends with me this season chasing another championship ring.”
Another former teammate, River Dragons captain and co-leading scorer Josh Pietrantonio said:
“I’m very happy for M.J. and his future. The amount of good he’s done for this organization and the community is something that will never be replaced. M.J. was the first line mate I had in Columbus and watching him grow into the man he is now makes me very proud. Love you brother, Columbus will see you soon.”
Finally, Graham wanted to say thank you to the City of Columbus itself for making him and the entire team feel so welcome. And to the fans, he wanted to leave one final thought:
“Tell them I’ll be back.”
Inside Edge Season Ticket Memberships are now available for the 2022-23 Season. The Inside Edge gives you exclusive access to team events with players, promotional giveaways, merchandise discounts, ticket priority for select CC events and River Dragons playoffs, ticket exchange privileges and more! Call 706-507-GOAL (4625) to score your Inside Edge Membership today!