Punch to the Heart – Draper to Retire

Kris Draper is retiring tomorrow and that makes me sad.

I had two favorite players growing up, Kris Draper and Pavel Bure.  Well I should rephrase that:  Draper was my favorite player, Bure was my favorite star player.  I was so impressed by how fast he was, his work ethic, and absolutely loved the fact that Draper was traded for $1 (even I could afford that!).

My first Wings jersey was a #33 CCM jersey, which actually was featured on Fox Sports Detroit during my 1.6 seconds of fame.  It is actually still on NHL.com as well.  Yes, for the new readers, I’m that a-hole who celebrates goal 9 in a 9-1 win like we won the Cup in the opponent’s barn.  6 Molsons: smart.

Show-code (blog-code?) moment here: As a 5th grader, I really wanted to be like Draper, so I started to spell my name with a K, like his, rather than Chris.  I did that for almost 3 months until my teacher sat me down and asked if I knew how to spell my own name…basically calling me stupid in front of about a dozen kids.  I stopped quickly after.

It never bugged me that Drapes slap shot looked like a middle schooler shooting a wiffle ball. In fact, I found it sort of funny.  I remember the year Kris scored 24 goals, I mean everything was going in for him.  I swear he paid off the goaltenders in the league to get out of the way of some shots.  Still, I absolutely loved every minute of it.

The grind-line was one of the coolest things ever in the league.  To see three best friends out there, completely frustrating whatever line the other team was playing and loving every minute of it was something special.  All of our hearts have a special place for #25/#33/#18 and I hope the Wings set up some sort of memorial to them.  They deserve it.

On ice, this is the right move.  He’s still useful out there, but there’s better players, even within the organization. Off-ice, well, we will have to see.  I’m very worried that there will be a lack of leadership now that some of the core is gone.

It’s strange, I can honestly say I’m sad right now.  I knew it was coming, but this hit hard.  All I can say is that the fans are going to miss you Kris.  You’re going to go into the history books as one of the greatest Wings of all time.