WINGS CORNER: Draper talks on hold for playoffs
Team may have several unrestricted free agents
April 7, 2004
BY NICHOLAS J. COTSONIKA
FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER
The Red Wings and center Kris Draper have tabled contract talks for the playoffs.
"Nothing got resolved," Draper said Tuesday. "There were some good talks. I think everyone just kind of wants to concentrate on a good playoff run here, and then we'll just pick up talks afterward."
The Wings still want Draper back; Draper still wants to stay.
"It doesn't change anything," Draper said.
But Draper is a candidate for the Selke Trophy, which goes to the NHL's best defensive forward, and that could increase his value on the open market. The trophy will be awarded June 10. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Draper's salary was $1.475 million this season.
SWEEP MEMORIES: The Wings are well aware Anaheim swept them in the first round last year.
"Everybody was embarrassed," forward Brendan Shanahan said. "We still sometimes hear about it when we're in visiting arenas and things like that. Everybody loves to have something to tease the Red Wings about, because we have had so much success in the last 10 years. We remember it, and sometimes are reminded of it."
But the Wings also remember what happened the last time they lost four straight in the first round to a seventh seed from southern California. They came back the next year and won the Stanley Cup. (After losing Games 3-6 to Los Angeles in 2001, the Wings went all the way in 2002.)
"We have to have that same resolve coming in this year," Shanahan said.
FOR STARTERS: The Wings have opened the playoffs 0-2 at Joe Louis Arena two years in a row. They obviously don't want to make it three in a row.
"We've played well at home all season long," Draper said. "We want to carry that into the playoffs."
The Wings went 30-7-4 at the Joe this season. The Predators have won only two games in Detroit in their six-season history.
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Draper isn't the Wings' only potential unrestricted free agent. The list includes Chris Chelios, Brett Hull, Mathieu Schneider and Steve Yzerman, and it could include Shanahan if the Wings don't pick up their $6.5-million option on him.
Adding to the uncertainty is the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement Sept. 15. The owners seek a cost-control system, such as a salary cap or luxury tax, and the players are fighting to keep an open market. Many expect a lockout.
If a lockout drags on, it could end the careers of some older fan favorites. And that means this could be their last playoff run.
"For some guys in the last year of their contracts, it's really important to do well," Yzerman said. "Whether it's your age or your contract or whatever, the better this team does in the playoffs, it's going to benefit you regardless of what happens with the CBA in a year or two years."