In 1993, the Detroit Red Wings acquired 22-year-old forward Kris Draper from the Winnipeg Jets for $1 and now – four Stanley Cups and 18 years later – Draper has decided to call it quits, in part because he wasn’t certain he would get the chance to play in Detroit next season.
"I never thought that I would get a player at the cost of a smoothie at McDonald's. But it happened," Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch said.
Draper was drafted 62nd overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft by the Jets but he saw little NHL action, in fact he is one of the few players who has played in the AHL and NHL before playing junior hockey in the OHL. After playing just 20 games in 4 seasons the Jets let him go for $1 and the Red Wings snatched him up. He would later earn the nickname “The One Dollar Man.”
Draper appeared in 1,137 games during his 17 years with the Red Wings, which is fifth in franchise history behind Gordie Howe, Steve Yzerman, Alex Delvecchio and Nicklas Lidstrom. Not to mention his 222 playoff games are second only to Lidstrom. Draper finished his career with just 161 goals and 203 assists for a total of 364 points but he was much more than that for the Red Wings.
"He was a role model for all of our young players and a leader in the locker room," Detroit general manager Ken Holland said.
Though he was on the downward slope of his career, it wasn’t too long ago that Draper was one of the top checking forwards, penalty-killers and faceoff men in the NHL. He found the most success when he played on the “Grind Line” with Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty in the early 2000s. In 2004 he was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is given to the NHL’s top defensive forward during the regular season. He also helped lead Detroit to four Stanley Cups (1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008).
Draper admitted during the press conference that the decision was difficult to make.
"I just thought when I looked big picture at what I wanted to do, I thought this was a great opportunity just to kind of step back from the game, still be involved in the game and watch hockey," Draper said. "I consider myself one of the luckiest athletes of all time, I never thought I'd last this long.”
He will now serve as a member of Detroit’s front-office.
Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.