Tag: Kirk Maltby

Kris Draper

Kris Draper announces retirement from NHL after 20 seasons


When Kris Draper’s NHL career started with the Winnipeg Jets (the original ones) back in 1990 as a speedy forward with no real niche at all to crack the Jets lineup, he likely found it hard to imagine that after his struggles to earn playing time he’d be calling it quits 21 years later. After starting off inauspiciously in Winnipeg and ending as a four-time Stanley Cup champion in Detroit, that’s just what Draper is doing as he announced his retirement from the NHL.

For Kris Draper, that kind of story is the perfect way to sum up what’s been the ideal career for checking line player. He didn’t score many goals, just 161 over his career, but he helped prevent them and he won faceoffs with the best in the NHL while playing with the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings obtained Draper from the Jets in one of the oddest deals in NHL history in June of 1993. Draper was traded to Detroit from Winnipeg because the Jets didn’t have a place for him in their lineup and all the Wings had to do was give the Jets a $1.

Draper took that opportunity with the Wings and turned it into a brilliant career as one of the best checking centers in the league. Playing alongside the likes of Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty in the latter half of the 1990s they formed “The Grind Line” as Detroit’s top shutdown line. With an equal mix of grit, speed, and tenacity “The Grind Line” helped lead the Wings to Stanley Cup victories in 1997, 1998, and 2002. With the 90s teams being dominated by equal amounts of North American and Russian superstar talent, “The Grind Line” provided a change-up from what the likes of Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan, Sergei Fedorov, and Igor Larionov were all capable of doing.

Of course, Draper nearly saw his career put on hold in 1996 after receiving one of the dirtiest hits from behind from Colorado’s Claude Lemieux in the 1996 Western Conference finals that saw Draper’s face horrifically injured. Draper suffered a broken jaw, broken cheekbone, and had numerous stitches to his face following the hit and the moment instigated the Detroit-Colorado rivalry that burned white hot through the late 90s and early 2000s.

Draper’s presence in Detroit was a constant over 17 seasons with the Wings and his ability to be productive consistently over his career is what helped his longevity. Draper enjoyed his best statistical seasons from 2001-2007 hitting his stride at its best in his 30s as he scored double-digit goals for five straight seasons. For a guy on the third and fourth line, potting that many goals is a hell of an accomplishment; Even more so considering it wasn’t his job to pitch in that much offensively.

While Draper’s departure in Detroit is a sad one for Wings fans, they have the heir apparent to Draper already in their lineup in Darren Helm. Draper was always known for his tremendous speed and ability to sustain pressure on the forecheck. Helm is one of the league’s fastest skaters and his arrival in Detroit effectively chased Draper out of a job in recent seasons.

For Detroit, it’s the third retirement they’ve seen this summer as Brian Rafalski and Chris Osgood each hung it up earlier this offseason. The effect of having three guys in their late 30s retiring helps bring the average age of the team down a bit, but losing that expertise and guiding veteran hands might prove to be difficult in the locker room. Draper’s leadership in particular leaves a bit of a void for the Wings, but with the number of other great veteran players they have their it shouldn’t affect things greatly.

While Draper isn’t someone who’s going to generate talk of joining the Hall of Fame, he’s leaving the game as a hero in Detroit and to Red Wings fans all over and as a guy hated in Colorado and Pittsburgh. You’ve done something right during your time in the league if you can leave the game beloved by the home fans and hated by rivals, and that’s just how Draper wants it.

Report: Red Wings’ Web site caption reveals that Kris Draper will announce retirement on Tuesday

Colin Wilson, Kris Draper

If the last few days taught us anything, it’s that it’s tough to keep secrets in the Internet age. For those of you who wondered why the Winnipeg Jets shared their new logo on what seemed like a random Friday in July, the reasoning becomes obvious when you consider the fact that it was already leaked.

This time around, it was a team’s own Web site that accidentally shared the news, as George Malik showed off his sharp vision by pointing out that a Kris Draper photo caption spilled the beans that he will announce his retirement on Tuesday.

To be fair to the Red Wings, it’s not as if Draper’s announcement can really compare to the retirements of Chris Osgood and Brian Rafalski or Nicklas Lidstrom’s to opt against retirement. Injuries and healthy scratches limited Draper to just 47 games played during the 2010-11 regular season and although he’s made some appearances in the playoffs, he’s averaged less than 10 minutes per postseason contest the last three years.

Many associate Detroit’s incredible run of success with draft day steals, but Draper represents one of the team’s better reclamation projects (see also: Daniel Cleary). The first version of the Winnipeg Jets traded him to the Red Wings in June 1993 and Draper stuck with the Red Wings ever since, becoming a part of four Stanley Cup-winning teams. Draper will probably be best remembered for his days on “The Grind Line,” which also featured Joe Kocur and Kirk Maltby.

Obviously, this is far from official, so we’ll pass along an update if/once he decides to retire.

Update: It’s official, but the press conference will take place tomorrow as indicated.

Detroit Red Wings news: Maltby retires while Rafalski, Ericsson and Draper are injured

Image (1) kirkmaltby1-thumb-250x185-19196-thumb-250x185-19197.jpg for post 15217
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There’s a bunch of Detroit Red Wings-related injury/retirement news via Ansar Khan of MLive.com today and last night. Let’s take a look.

  • Kirk Maltby is set to announce his retirement today. The grinder has been a fixture in Detroit for most of his 16-year NHL career and Khan points out that he’s one of only four Red Wings to play on all four Stanley Cup teams since 1997 (the others being Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom and Kris Draper). Khan captured the spirit of his career quite well.

During his prime, Maltby was a premier grinder and penalty-killer, one of the hardest players in the league to play against because of his physical, agitating style. He was a mainstay on the club’s heralded Grind Line, with Kris Draper and Darren McCarty, for many years.

So the Red Wings are a little banged up already this season. Khan guesses that their lineup will look like this today.


Abdelkader (ribs, day-to-day) and Draper are out.


Howard (starting)

The biggest obstacle for the Red Wings seems to be age and the natural increase in injuries that come with it. Congratulations to Maltby on a great career and good luck to Detroit as they deal with allegedly minor injury issues.