Drapes had success at the highest level, winning the Stanley Cup four times with one of the most gorgeous playoff beards in NHL history. He was acquired from the Winnipeg Jets (Version 1.0) for just a dollar, and we still aren’t totally sure if that was U.S. or Canadian. He played on the Grind Line, which could also aptly sum up his workouts, which would be a grind for seemingly everybody but him.
That’s just part of it.
Kris Draper ranks fifth all-time in Wings history with 1,137 games played. And those four men with longer on-ice tenure are named Howe, Yzerman, Delvecchio and Lidstrom, very elite company for an Original Six franchise. With 161 goals and 364 career points, odds are that he won’t join those four in the Hockey Hall of Fame, but you’ll find few players as beloved in Detroit, past, present, or future.
“I’m going to miss being a hockey player,” Draper said upon announcing his retirement on Tuesday. “I’m going to miss putting on DRAPER 33. I loved it.”
I’ll always remember Kris Draper as a team-first guy, both at home and on the road, finding ways to bring the two together in that unique bond between family and team. As most know, Drapes is always one to tell a good story, and is pretty much gracious with everyone, including our social media audience.
We’ve been able to showcase that bond over the last 12 months, whether that be Draper showing off his special Crocs, which were marked up by his son Kienan, or admitting to having a life sized poster of Justin Bieber in the kitchen, property of oldest daughter Kennedy.
During the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup runs, most Red Wings players had pictures drawn by the Draper children hanging in their lockers. If I remember the story correctly, all of the pictures had beards as thick and luscious as Henrik Zetterberg, because that’s who Kennedy’s favorite player (besides her father) was.
And when the Red Wings did win that 2008 Stanley Cup, Draper’s third child, Kamryn Rose etched her way into Stanley Cup lore by well … pooping in it.
“A week after we won it, I had my newborn daughter in there and she pooped in the Cup,” said Draper. “That was something. We had a pretty good laugh … It was, well, clean it out. I still drank out of it that night, so no worries.”
We’ve also seen Draper take younger players under his wing as if they were family, including hosting the team’s unofficial Thanksgiving dinner and joking that he was going to place Justin Abdelkader at the kids table. (The camaraderie the three of them have shared has been instrumental in their development as NHL players.) And Drapes always seemed to be up to date on pop culture, taking on the role as the biggest Charlie Sheen ‘Duh … winning!’ fan in the locker room.
“He always looked after us … on and off the ice,” says Abdelkader. “He was always there to answer questions, offer advice and as a friend.”
He was in every sense of the word, a one of a kind player unique to this city and this sport. He will be missed.
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