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December 16, 2003 - On the ice with.... Kris Draper, Red Wings forward
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Tuesday, December 16, 2003

On the ice with ...

Kris Draper, Red Wings forward

David Guralnick / The Detroit News

Kris Draper

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Wise investment

Its undoubtedly the best dollar the Red Wings organization has ever spent.

The Wings acquired Kris Draper from the Winnipeg Jets in June 1993 for future considerations, which turned out to be $1.

"All it was, really, was Winnipeg giving me a chance to get out of their organization and move on," Draper said. "And, you know, once I got to Detroit, my career just sort of took off."

For $1, the Wings have watched as Draper, 32, has emerged into an effective all-around player capable of being used in a variety of roles.

"One of the best moves we ever made," senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano said. "You never know how players will develop. When we drafted Nick Lidstrom, who knew hed develop into the player he has? You just hope players will flourish and help the organization."

Draper certainly has.

Hes also repaid the buck. After the Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, in a rally at Joe Louis Arena, Draper reached into his pocket, pulled out a dollar bill, and gave it to owner Mike Ilitch.

Ted Kulfan

Career year

The Wings are still eight games away from the midpoint of their schedule, but Kris Draper is well on his way to a career season.

If teammate Pavel Datsyuk hadnt been named NHL Player of the Week on Monday, the honor might have gone to Draper. Draper had three goals and two assists in the Wings three road games last week, bringing his season totals to 13 and nine, respectively.

Drapers career-high for goals is 15, so he should match that in a handful of games.

"The last couple of seasons, Ive had career years in points (30, 35), and thats something I wanted to do this season better those years," Draper said.

"When you lose players such as Igor Larionov and Sergei (Fedorov), minutes open up. When you look down the middle (at the center position), Sergei took a lot of minutes and defensive responsibilities, and thats something Ive wanted to step up and do. Its a lot of fun right now."

Draper has been on the ice a lot recently with Brett Hull and Datsyuk, the NHL scoring leader.

"I feel like Ive won the lottery," Draper said. "When you play with Pavel and Brett Hull, you just want to take advantage of the opportunity."

Ted Kulfan

Grinding away

Only in a city called Hockeytown could the players on a checking line reach hero status.

Thats Detroit, and thats the Grind Line Kris Draper centering Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty.

More than a few head coaches around the league are comparing their checking lines to how effective the Grind Line has been over the years.

Its a unique situation, really. Rarely in the NHL anymore do you see three players stick around on the same team for any lengthy period of time, much less on the same line.

"Weve played together for so long now, we know each other, we know where well be on the ice, and theres just a real comfort level," Draper said. "We know what our roles are, what our jobs are. We try to create a little energy, make it tough on the opposition, and if the opportunity arises, you always like to score."

But they realize scoring is a bonus. Its the dirty work, the grinding, that has made the trio such a huge part of the Wings success over the years.

"Theyve been a huge part of this teams success," Coach Dave Lewis said.

Ted Kulfan

Golden moment

Winning the Stanley Cup is special. But playing for your country, winning a gold medal thats a unique experience, too.

Kris Draper has won three Stanley Cups, and he has memories he will cherish for a lifetime. Last spring, he helped Canada win the gold medal at the world championships, and thats something hell always treasure, as well.

"Definitely," Draper said. "Its an honor to play for your country. It was a thrill, especially the way everyone was reacting (back in Canada). It was just a great experience."

The Canadians defeated Sweden in the gold-medal game in Helsinki, Finland.

Draper, along with teammates Kirk Maltby and Mathieu Dandenault, played for Team Canada. They were available because of the Wings first-round loss to Anaheim in the NHL playoffs. They provided experience and skill to a rather young Canadian roster.

"It was a lot of fun the way the team came together," Draper said. "It was a great experience."

Ted Kulfan

For the family

For Darren McCarty, it was all about family.

On March 26, 1997, McCarty finally got revenge for the misdeed that had occurred against his "brother" 10 months earlier. McCarty pummelled Claude Lemieux of the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena. It was an act of retribution for Lemieuxs cross-check on Kris Draper in Denver in 1996 in the sixth and deciding game of the Western Conference finals.

In that game, Drapers jaw, nose and cheekbone were fractured. Surgery was required to repair his jaw, which was then wired shut while it healed.

The hit and its effects were so violent that the Michigan House asked Colorados attorney general to charge Lemieux with criminal misconduct.

"He did it to Drapes, but he did it to me, too," McCarty said in 1997 of Lemieux. "I told Drapes way back in the hospital that if I got my chance, Id do my best."