The Changing Face of Hockeytown--"Drapes" May Retire
Kris Draper, affectionately known as "Drapes" to his legion of fans, is set to retire tomorrow, according to the Detroit Free Press. The Detroit Red Wings forward has played 17 seasons, and has won 4 Stanley Cups. It is believed that Draper had wanted to play another season, but his playing time had greatly diminished in the last couple years, and the current roster is stacked with talented young forwards.
Draper began his hockey career in the 1990-91 season, playing three games with the Winnipeg Jets. He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in 1993, and quickly found a home there. He formed the gritty "Grind Line" along with linemates Kirk Maltby (who just retired last year) and Joey Kocur. Draper won Stanley Cups in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008. Kris Draper also played numerous times on Canada's national hockey team, and he was on the Canadian Olympic hockey team in 2006.
While he was not a prodigious goal scorer, Draper was always known as a reliable, hard working, and extremely physically fit defensive forward. He was the recipient of the Frank Selke Trophy in 2004, given to the NHL's best defensive forward. In that 2004 season, Draper scored a career high 24 goals and 16 assists.
In recent years, his playing time had been greatly reduced. However, Kris Draper remained a tremendously well-liked individual in the locker room, and was named alternate captain of the Red Wings in 2006. He served as mentor to many of the younger talent on the team. It is expected that he will remain with the Red Wings organization along with fellow teammates Kirk Maltby, Chris Osgood and Chris Chelios.
With Draper's expected retirement, the Red Wings team continues its evolution, and shift toward younger players. Goalie Chris Osgood, who won 401 games with the Red Wings, retired last week. Defenseman Niklas Lidstrom, arguably one of the best ever to play the position, has elected to play another season with the Red Wings. However, at age 41, Lidstrom's playing days are surely numbered. The face of Hockeytown is sure to change greatly in the next few years. Hopefully Detroit's younger players will pick up the torch, and continue the winning tradition for years to come.