The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/03/12 at 04:46 PM ET
Red Wings fans might be more apt to suggest, or at least hope, that their team might somehow find a way to honor the contributions made by Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Chris Osgood and, assuming his playing days are done, Tomas Holmstrom to the team’s 4 Stanley Cup championships—some sort of banner honoring the quartet, if not the opening of a Tigers-style “Hall of Fame” in which players like Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios’s contributions might also be recognized by the organization without raising their jersey numbers to the rafters…But Inside Toronto’s Norm Nelson reports that Red Wings executive and long-time player Kris Draper’s #33 was retired by his high school, Toronto’s De Le Salle College, recently, and Draper was floored by the honor:
“When I think about coming down to De La Salle, I lived in Scarborough. What I had to do, I had to jump on the GO Train, I had to jump on the subway, I had to jump on a bus - and there were many mornings when I had my hockey bag with me. I think I brought my hockey bag more than I brought my school books.”
Although Scarborough born and raised, Draper, who this year spent his first full year in Detroit’s front office after a stellar National Hockey League career that spanned 20 years, the last 17 of them with the Detroit Red Wings, attended De La Salle for his first three years of high school (Grades 9, 10 and 11). And on Thursday, May 3, before plenty of family, students and teachers, he was acknowledged by his former school with a modest but moving ‘retirement ceremony’ that featured a banner which will be hung in their arena, as well as a replica of his old school jersey that was presented to him.
Shortly after the highlight clip was played, Draper took to the stage and quipped, “I think the video captured all my goals in the National Hockey League.”
Draper (who finished high school in Ottawa as he played for the OHL’s 67’s) also spoke to Nelson about his present role with the Wings, bluntly admitting that he’d rather be playing…
“No, playing is a lot more fun,” he said, with a chuckle. “I mean for me, I played 20 years, and then I got a great opportunity to walk away from the game and work in the (Detroit) front office with Ken Holland (GM) and Jim Nill (assistant GM), and it just made sense. I wanted to play and I felt I probably thought I could still play, but the fact is when you play 20 years, you’re 40 years old (he turns 41 May 24), there are a lot of young guys coming up and it just felt like it was the right thing to do to move into the front office.”
And admitting that he hasn’t laced up the skates for the Wings’ Alums yet, hoping instead to play in a higher-profile game next December:
“I’m getting ready for the Winter Classic - the Detroit-Toronto alumni game - that’ll be my next game,” he said.
This year, he said hockey definitely took a back seat to family. Although obviously still based in Detroit, his family also have their own home in Scarborough - where Draper’s parents (who were both in attendance) also still live.
“This year priority number one was my family. I had missed so much. I have a 12-year-old, 10-year-old and a four-year-old. They made a lot of sacrifices for me over my career and it was really just about them, and I helped coach my son’s hockey team. Whatever my daughter had going on with school or sports I was at that - Christmas concerts. It’s amazing all the stuff I realized how much I missed this year. So it was a pretty special year for me to be able to do so much stuff with my family.”
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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.