In an announcement that shocked nobody, Red Wings center Kris Draper announced his retirement on Tuesday, hanging up his skates after 20 seasons, the last 17 in Detroit.
“This is the most difficult decision I’ve ever had to make because I love this game so much and the Detroit Red Wings,” Draper said. “There is sadness because this is all I know. I love this game. I love everything about it. I love the training. I love to compete.”
Draper was famously acquired by the Red Wings from the Jets for one dollar. After that, Draper went on to a career that could be described as professional and workman-like, helping Detroit win four Stanley Cups throughout his tenure.
“I would like to thank Bryan Murray and Doug MacLean for making that whopping trade with Winnipeg to acquire me for a dollar,” Draper said.
“Kris has been a big asset to the Red Wings, not only by being a great hockey player, but as a great person,” owner Mike Ilitch said.
Draper is going to remain with the organization, taking on a front-office role. “It’s kind of sad in a way,” Ilitch said, “but he’s going to bring a lot to our organization, and I’m thrilled about that.”
He really earned his name as part of Detroit’s famous Grind Line along with Joe Kocur (replaced by Darren McCarty in 1998) and Kirk Maltby, providing a tough and intimidating group that would ware down opponents. It was as tough a line as you could find in hockey and was a large part of all the Wings’ success in the late 90s and early 2000s.
In his 1,157 games (all but 20 with the Wings) Draper scored 161 goals and had 203 assists.