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Chris Drury recognized as winner at every level

by David Satriano

The United States Hockey Hall of Fame will induct four new members on Thursday during a ceremony that includes two Lester Patrick Award winners. This week, profiles the six people to be honored.

There are a lot of positive adjectives to describe Chris Drury, but perhaps one of his former coaches, John Tortorella, said it best.

"The first thought that comes to me with Drury is 'ultimate competitor.' He was a first-class teammate, all the little things he did in the room," said Tortorella, who coached Drury with the New York Rangers from 2008-11. "He was our captain when I was there. He's a gamer. He put points up on the board. He's been offensive, but you round it up in two words: competing and a gamer."

Tortorella said Drury never complained about anything and just went out and did his job.

"He played through injuries people didn't even know about," Tortorella said. "I have nothing but true respect for him. He was such a competitor. It was terrific to be around him."

Drury, 39, a center who played 11 seasons in the NHL, won at every level: in college, in the pros, and on the national stage. He even won the Little League World Series in 1989. His list of accomplishments is long, so it's no surprise he will be inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

Drury won an NCAA ice hockey championship with Boston University in 1995, the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college in 1997-98, the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 1998-99 with the Colorado Avalanche, and the Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001. He helped the United States win two silver medals in the Winter Olympics (2002, 2010) and a bronze in the World Championship (2004).

The Trumbull, Conn., native is the only player in history to win the Hobey Baker and Calder Trophy.

"I'm on the selection committee for the Hockey Hall of Fame, and you wrestle with these decisions on some athletes," said Brian Burke, the president of hockey operations for the Calgary Flames and general manager of the U.S. men's team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. "The bar is high, and should be high for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, and some of these decisions you wrestle with.

"There's no wrestling with a guy like Chris Drury. This is so appropriate and such a fitting honor (for someone) who meant so much to USA Hockey. I think it's wonderful; I am really proud of him and really happy for him."

Burke can't pinpoint exactly how long he has known Drury, but their relationship goes back more than 20 years.

"I had his older brother Ted in the World Junior championships in 1993," Burke said. "I was general manager of the team in the World Championships in Germany, so I got to know him. I met Chris along the way.

"I don't remember the first time I met him, but I bumped into him in different tournaments, being around professional hockey, and I always admired him as a player."

Drury was past his prime during the 2009-10 NHL season, but Burke never had any intention of leaving him off the Olympic roster, despite some backlash.

"He wasn't having a great year when we named him to the Olympic team," Burke said, "and we announced the team at Fenway Park after the Winter Classic in [2010]. I was actually incredulous that people asked me, 'Why are you taking Chris Drury?' and I said, 'Because he is Chris Drury.'

"Chris Drury is a winner. He's been a winner at everything he does. He's even a successful businessman now. So to me, he was indispensable as a room guy, as a guy you want in your dressing room as a leader, but also as a player. And he ended up being a really critical part of our silver-medal-winning team."

Drury had two goals in six games in helping the United States to a silver medal, and said he was surprised to be selected to the team.

"For Brian to say that and to make that team, I kind of had a role as a veteran on that team," Drury said. "My role wasn't just on the ice, I did things in the locker room and was a leader. I wasn't there for my scoring. I never really look at all my previous accomplishments. I'd always look ahead. "

Drury was co-captain of the Buffalo Sabres from 2003-07 and captain of the Rangers from 2008-11.

"I spent a lot of time with Chris, he's a guy I looked up to a lot when I played with him," said Ryan Callahan, who took over as Rangers captain after Drury was bought out in 2011. "I think everybody sees what he can do on the ice, how good he was on the ice, but it's the stuff off the ice that I learned from him. As a young guy, [when] I was assistant captain when he was the captain, I learned a lot of his leadership qualities, how to be a pro off the ice and how to come to the rink every day ready to work. I call him a friend now and I learned a lot from him.

"Obviously he was no longer with the team [when I became captain], but he shot me an email, gave me a call and gave me some words of encouragement. He was a guy I could always lean on and ask questions to, and that just shows his character and what kind of guy he is."

Drury was asked what made him a great leader. He deflected praise from himself, instead naming others who taught him how to be the player he became.

"There were a lot of guys I looked up to," he said. "I was fortunate enough to play with some great leaders in the NHL: Joe Sakic, Ray Bourque, Rob Blake and Patrick Roy with the Avalanche, and Brendan Shanahan of the Rangers, to name a few."

Drury was selected by the Quebec Nordiques in the third round (No. 72) of the 1994 NHL Draft before attending Boston University from 1994-98. He scored 113 goals, a school record, before joining the Avalanche in 1998-99, and won the Calder Trophy with 29 goals and 44 points.

In 892 games with the Avalanche, Sabres, Calgary Flames and Rangers, he had 255 goals (including 47 game-winners) and 615 points. He had 47 goals, including 17 game-winners, in 135 Stanley Cup Playoff games. In 2001, he had 11 goals and 16 points in 23 postseason games to help the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup.

"He's a low-key guy off the ice," Burke said. "He's not a rah-rah guy. He leads by example more than by speaking. But he's a guy that truly does everything well on a hockey rink. He's responsible defensively, good on faceoffs, good offensively, and just at critical points in the game, Chris Drury could make the play to change the game. And those guys are hard to find."

Though his career was filled with accomplishments, Drury never forgot his roots.

"USA Hockey has always meant the world to me and my family coming from a small hockey area back then in Trumbull, Conn.," Drury said. "Certainly without USA Hockey and their tournaments, I may never have made it out of there, so I will always owe USA Hockey a debt of gratitude."


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