Hey everyone- I'm the latest addition to the "On the Wings" staff, I'm going to be writing a weekly column and then post some comments about games and such whenever I have time. About two months ago, I interviewed Kris Draper for about 25 minutes and Jason Williams for almost 20 and so I'm going to post parts of the interviews up here. Since the interviews are quite long, I'm going to be breaking them up. So without further ado, here is the first part of my interview with Draper:
Question #1: You've won three Stanley Cups. Was there one more memorable than the others?
"Probably the first one because it had been like 42 years since we had won one. The city was obviously really looking to have a Stanley Cup Champion back in the city so that was pretty exciting. The second one was special after the Vladimir and Sergei accident because it was a very inspirational victory. Especially when Stevie presented Vladi with the Stanley Cup because that is something you're never going to forget as a professional athlete. The third one was special for me because I was married and had two kids by then so I put my son in the Stanley Cup and I ate fruit loops out of the Stanley Cup with my daughter. Just the little things like that was special since I hadn't been able to do with the first win. Anytime you win the Stanley Cup its special, its just that each one has its own special memories."
Question #2: How do you balance family and work?
"I don't my wife does. That is the key. I love summers since I can hang out with my wife and kids and everything is family-orientated. During the season there are some stretches when it gets pretty tough; you're away from your kids on road trips and the kids are wondering when Daddy is coming home and those kind of things. My daughter is 3 and a half so she kind of understands the going away on a road trip. But now everytime my son sees me go away, he's wondering when Daddy is coming back and that type of thing. So that's tough, but the one who takes the brunt of it is my wife. Every guy here is lucky to have a wife to take care of the kids and kids that understand that Daddy has to go to sleep or Daddy has to go play hockey. My wife realizes the sacrifices I make to play hockey and she makes a lot of sacrifices to make sure everything works out as a family."
Question #3: What would you describe the feeling you had when you have the victory parade in Detroit since there were around a million people there?
"For the first year, I don't think the city realized how big it was going to be. I was out the night before the parade for the Stanley Cup party; it was very early in the morning when I was heading on my way home and we stopped by the Spirit of Detroit and brought the Stanley Cup out to take some pictures. There were people at 5:30/6:00 in the morning lining up for that parade. And here I come with the Stanley Cup, and people were so excited for the parade and then to see the Stanley Cup. It was pretty neat like all of a sudden you'd get in a car and drive on Woodward all the way to Hart Plaza and there is close to a million people there who were so excited to be a part of the Stanley Cup win and parade. It was unbelievable and like I said the city didn't realize how big it was going to be and us, as players, never had been involved in something like that and we didn't realize how big it was going to be and it just turned out to be a tremendous day."
Question #4: You brought the Stanley Cup to Children's Hospital after the win in 2002. Why did you decide to bring in there over anywhere else?
"Obviously, I've been very fortunately not only healthy as a person but as a professional athlete as well. And to give the opportunity to kids who are sick or wouldn't be able to come out see the Stanley Cup in public because of their illness, it was an opportunity that came and they asked me if I wanted to bring the Stanley Cup to Children's Hospital. And for me to be able to do something like that, it was easy. I was like `Absolutely, no matter what day or time or how long I have to be there for. So I went there and I guess I spent a couple of hours with kids who were less fortunate than I was. And just to see the expressions that these kids had, and not only the kids, but also the kids' parents because the parents go through this everyday. You know as we wake up in the morning, while you guys go to school and I go play hockey; these parents go to the hospital everyday to visit their kids. To have an opportunity like this and to give it back to the community and to the children, it was tough there. Being as fortunate as I am and to go in there and see all the sicknesses and illnesses and be able to put a smile on a kid's face and if you have the opportunity to make kids forget about their illnesses for even just 10 minutes; you know you've done something good. It's very rewarding to go in there and to do that. Like the Stanley Cup was bigger than some of the kids, it was pretty neat. And they saw it and couldn't believe how big it was and so it was pretty good. We put a couple of not newborn but like 1-year-old kids in the Cup. The parents asked `if my son or daughter could sit in the Stanley Cup' and I would hold the kids and the parents would take pictures. It was a special day."
Question #5: Think back to your high school years, what was your favorite activity to do outside of school like on the weekends?
"Well, luckily I was in a lot of sports and I think that was my parents, idea to keep me out of trouble. But I mean like any teenager, I loved going out with my friends. You'd do whatever you'd do and obviously sometimes you'd find trouble and other times you'd stay out of trouble. I always enjoyed going to the movies and that kind of stuff. But I would have hockey on the weekends with usually a Friday night or Saturday night game and practices as well so that was probably the busiest time for me. And that's what I loved and that's what I wanted. I wanted to be surrounded by hockey and I was able to do that by playing high school hockey and then also by playing in a different league as well. Everything was busy with hockey.?
Question #6: Did you do any other sports in high school or was it just hockey?
"Yeah, I started out playing football but the seasons overlapped so my schoolwork suffered. I was alright with it but my dad wasn't. Obviously, it was a no brainer at what sport I was going to pick. Yeah I enjoyed playing football but hockey was something I wanted to do at any opportunity that I had. But then during the summer time, I played golf and tennis and those kind of activities but mostly especially during the winter it was hockey."
Question #7: Who is your roommate?
"I room with Darren McCarty."
I bet there are some pretty interesting stories there.
"Yeah, we had some good times."
Any one story you?d like to share?
"Let's see, well the funny thing is you always get in the room (hotel room) and its always who gets what bed. With Darren and I, if we're winning then he'll have the bed closest to when you walk in the room and I'll have the window bed. And if we lose, we'll switch it up. We'll always argue for the remote. Darren's the kind of guy who has a lot of stuff going on. He'll be on his computer, talking on his cell phone, and he still thinks he can watch whatever program on TV that he wants. While I'm just sitting there and I'm like pass me the remote. So we kind of have little arguments like that. The time factor like when you want to go to sleep; he's the kind of guy who can watch TV all night and not have a problem. Whereas I like sleep, I enjoy sleep time and I?ll get up at 4 or 5 in the morning and sure enough the TV will still be on and I'll try to look for the remote and the remote would be somewhere in Darren's bed and I really wouldn't want to go look for it at 4 or 5 in the morning. But usually on the road, you'll get 10-14 guys going out for dinner and then after that some of the guys will go to the movies so it's a good time to hang out with your teammates. Its not fun being away from home but everyone does things together which makes it more fun."
I went to the game last night and Draper was giving Federov a hard time on the boards, but otherwise Feds just seemed to float around the neutral zone- no serious contributions. And Vitaly Vishnevski of the Mighty Ducks nailed Yzerman in the first part of the game and Yzie slammed his stick on the bench because there was no call; Shanny gave #5 a rough time the rest of the game. Tomorrow I'll post the final part of the Draper interview about his pregame routine and nicknames/team fun.
Question #8: As I was watching your practice, I noticed that you seem to be the jokester of the group. Are you known as the jokester or do people have other nicknames for you?
Dave Lewis: "Oh, we have lots of nicknames for him. Did he tell you about his great goal the other night??
Draper: "Which one??
The shorthanded one?
"Yeah probably. A lot of guys call me Drapes or Nails.?
"Oh, the whole tough as nails kind of deal. Ray Whitney calls me Spike ? the little dog who doesn't stop, the little bulldog who keeps going. So like I said, I realize how fortunate I am doing what I'm doing; its something that I've wanted to do ever since I learned how to skate and knew what hockey was. You know, I'm going to come to the rink everyday and work hard when I have to but I'm going to have a lot of fun doing it. Sometimes guys are know whatever, like in grumpy moods or grouchy but I make sure I'm much more chipper and kind of bug them as much as I can to get them in good moods. So its fun that way, myself and Kirk Maltby ? we have a lot of energy and we love to kind of fool around out there and have fun but the bottom line is, when you have to work ? you work and when you can have fun, you have fun. I'm just fortunate. Everyday I get to come down here. I'm a Detroit Red Wing and I've won three Stanley Cups and everything in hockey is just going really good now.?
Question #9: Was it Holmstrom or Maltby that missed that great pass and then you guys gave him a hard time about it just like any high school team I know?
"I'm not sure but that's all we are. And we're lucky to be able to do that, we're in a winning environment and we're expected to do well. When things aren't going well, its turns into a bit of a business especially in this city since the expectations are so high. And we place those expectations on ourselves as well. It's a good thing and right now we're on a bit of a winning streak and things are good. But when we're not winning and playing as well ? its more like a business atmosphere and that's how it should be. You have to realize when its time to have fun and when you need to buckle down and get to work. You know everyone goes out and practices hard, we all have the expectations that we want to go out and win night in and night out ? that's what is fun, to be able to go out and do that. I realize how lucky we are. Some guys come from different teams and organizations who go to the rink everyday but aren't expected to win hockey games whereas here everyday we go to the rink and have that chance to win the hockey game.?
Question #10: What is your pregame routine like? For example, tomorrow night you have a game what do you do between the time that you wake up and the time that the puck drops to initiate the game?
"I'll wake up in the morning you know it's different now that my daughter is in school. Tomorrow, I'll drive my daughter to school and usually I'll try to go to my little restaurant, its called Sunny's Restaurant for breakfast every morning. Depending on if we're winning or not, it depends on what I eat. So we're winning right now so I'll eat egg white omelets. If we lose, I have to switch what I eat and have oatmeal. It is a little superstition that I have. Then I just drive down to the rink for our pregame skate for like half an hour where we skate and just loosen up. It's just like a crammed in practice, you get the goalie shots and get your sticks ready for the game. Afterwards, I usually eat at home. My wife cooks a pregame meal for me at home so I hang out with my daughter, Kennedi, and my son, Kienan. Then its time for a nap, like I told you sleep is very important to me. I usually sleep from about 2 o'clock in the afternoon to 4 o'clock in the afternoon. I'll get up and then go get my coffee at Tim Horton's and a muffin, chocolate chip muffin that's my lucky muffin. And then I'll drive down to the rink and I like to get to the rink about 2 and a half hours before the game. Usually I'll get my sticks ready, do some stretches, and make sure I'm warmed up and ready to go. Half an hour before the game, we go up for warm-up and then its game time."
Question #11: Do you do anything after the game like if you win or does everyone just go home?
"It depends on the schedule. If we have an opportunity, we'll grab our wives and go out to dinner. Like right after tomorrow night's game we have to leave to head out on the road for our game the following day. Usually if we don't play for a couple of days or have the night off we'll go up for dinner. But usually by the time we get out of the rink its 11:30 or 12 o'clock already so you might just grab something to eat and then head home."