The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/23/12 at 03:41 PM ET
As noted yesterday evening, Red Wings executive Kris Draper both threw out the first pitch at Wednesday’s Great Lakes Loons game and spoke to the Saginaw News’s Erica Perdue about his experiences as a member of the front office and the “state of the Wings,” and he continued both conversations with the Midland Daily News…Erm, well, the artIcle’s uncredited…
“I don’t think anyone is going to sugar coat it when we lost Nicklas Lidstrom,” Draper said. “It was a huge loss. It’s a big blow to the team, but I truly believe that Niklas Kronwall is going to step up and evolve as one of the top defensemen in the game. I think Brendan Smith is ready to get an opportunity and now is his time. Kyle Quincey, who we just got in a trade and signed, we got him on a two-year deal. He played so well in Colorado and Los Angeles and that’s what we expect from him. Jonathan Ericsson, a big, strong defenseman, he was always kind of knocking on the door to be the top four defenseman, but our top four was so good, but he paid his dues and now his opportunity’s there. When you think about it, in the last three years losing Rafalski, Lidstrom and Brad Stuart, these young guys are coming up and that’s just the way it goes. The younger guys have to come in and produce and that’s what we expect.”
Draper, a gritty player on the ice in his own right when he played, said he liked the Red Wings addition of Jordin Tootoo, who has a reputation for getting under the skin of opposing teams.
“He’s one of those guys,” Draper said of Tootoo, who signed a three-year deal with Detroit in the offseason. “You hated him when he was a Nashville Predator. How many people hated Chris Chelios when he played for the Chicago Blackhawks? All of a sudden he throws on a Detroit Red Wings uniform and we love him. Now (Chelios) works for the organization. Those are the tough guys that you play against and you bring them in the locker room and they play for you and I think they’ll like the way he plays and what he’s going to do for our team and for the teammates. I’ve heard a lot of good things about him. Whatever he’s asked, he’ll do it.”
Regarding his job?
“Kenny Holland and (assistant general manager) Jim Nill are two of the best in the business,” Draper said. “Kenny calls (my job) going to the University of Detroit Red Wings. That’s where I’m getting my education, which is true. I just sit there and listen to these guys and drive up to Grand Rapids and listen to what they have to say and watch a game and drive back with them. Those are things that certainly I’m learning.”
Draper, 41, won four Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and is one of five players to play in over 1,000 games for the Red Wings organization. Draper was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in 1989, but traded to Detroit in 1993 for just $1.
“I miss it a lot and I knew that I was going to, but the reality is that sooner or later for every athlete, it’s going to happen,” Draper said of retiring. “For me, I played 20 years, 18 in Detroit and I was able to do so many things. Obviously, winning the four Stanley Cups is something so special and memorable, so you sit back and to be able to walk away from the game, it made it easier to do. The fact that I was able to turn Detroit into my home, that meant a lot to me.”
And here’s what he had to say about the Wings’ decision to draft Saginaw Spirit goalie Jake Paterson:
“We were up (in Saginaw) quite a bit last year, especially with their playoff run,” Draper said. “Ozzie (Chris Osgood) was a big believer in Jake and he was one of the main reasons why we drafted him. We’ll be up there watching him play and that’s the fun part. For Ozzie and I, to see the players last year and now the guys that are picked, we get to follow them now as the property of the Detroit Red Wings.”
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.