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Centennial Classic

Kris Draper stirs up Centennial Alumni Game

Red Wings forward scores game-winner, mixes it up with Maple Leafs

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Kris Draper was all the talk after the 2017 Rogers NHL Centennial Classic Alumni Game at Exhibition Stadium on Saturday, and not just because the former Detroit Red Wings forward scored the game-winning goal with 1:05 left.

Draper, a big part of the 4-3 win for the Detroit alumni, was in the middle of everything in the closing minutes of the game.

Moments before he scored on a Dino Ciccarelli rebound, Draper had an exchange of slashes and words with Gary Roberts of the Maple Leafs.

"It wasn't fake, I can tell you that," Draper said.

The Draper-Roberts confrontation began when a forechecking Ciccarelli banged Maple Leafs defenseman Danny Markov into the corner boards.

Video: Centennial Alumni: Draper, Roberts bring back rivalry

Roberts was in quickly and jostled Draper. As the play went back up the ice, they exchanged slashes.

"Not surprised, not surprised," Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan said. "Two really competitive guys. I think at the end of the day we all have fun. We don't get to do this anymore. So when we do get involved or get nicked up a little, we love it."

Roberts called the incident part of the game.

"Hey, it's over," he said. "It is what it is. A 3-3 tie, no one wants to be out there for the goal against, someone wants to score the goal. It got a little competitive, but all in all just to be part of it, to be part of this whole event, it was real special for me."

Draper made no apologies.

"We just had an exchange and all that," he said. "It's kind of what we are and who we are. I know that's who he is.

"You have the intensity and that competitiveness and we don't get enough of that anymore. When you walk away from the game and from the NHL, you just don't have that fire and that passion. And I think it kicks in a little bit."

Draper's most intense career action against Roberts was in the 2008 Stanley Cup Final when Draper's Red Wings defeated Roberts and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"I like to think we both play the game the right way, play it hard," Draper said. "We compete and kind of play on the edge.

"We didn't play [against each other] a ton. He had the Stanley Cup Final when he was in Pittsburgh so I saw a lot of his line. It was just there [today]."

Video: Centennial Alumni: Draper nets Ciccarelli's rebound

The winning goal also was the subject of some debate. The Maple Leafs questioned Ciccarelli's violation of an apparent unwritten rule stipulating no slap shots in alumni games. He fired a hard shot, crossing the blue line on the right wing.

"What do you mean, no slap shots?" Draper said. "I've never heard of that. [Agreement] between who? Who brought that in? Dino, he's a half-slapper guy. So it's in the books. Sorry guys."

Detroit took a 3-0 lead on second-period goals by Nicklas Lidstrom, Igor Larionov and Shanahan.

The Maple Leafs responded with a goal from Wendel Clark in the second, then goals by Darcy Tucker and Tie Domi made 3-3 eight minutes into the third period.

There were four penalty shots, awarded in lieu of power plays, but no goals. Borje Salming and Gary Leeman took the Toronto shots and Tomas Holmstrom and Kirk Maltby shot for Detroit.

The most memorable attempt came from Holmstrom in the first period that was stopped on a diving save by Toronto starting goalie Mike Palmateer, 62.

Video: Centennial Alumni: Palmateer turns back the clock

A falling Palmateer, wearing his classic brown pads from 1984, made an arm save on Holmstrom's deke to the left, then had to leave the game after sustaining an injury on the play.

"Amazing," Roberts said of Palmateer. "Really unfortunate that he hurt himself after, but like anything, it's a competitive game and no one wants to go out there and be embarrassed. When the game is on the line it doesn't matter what league you're playing in, what level, whether you're retired or not retired, that's why we play hockey. It's the greatest game in the world for that reason."

Draper, who took the lead role in assembling this version of the Red Wings alumni team, said the real result of the NHL Centennial Classic Alumni Game will be many more great memories.

"I've said this before, I was fortunate enough to play in one NHL [outdoor game, 2009 Winter Classic] at Wrigley Field with the Red Wings, and any opportunity to play in an outdoor game, an alumni game, in these events, it's first-class," he said. "Toronto did a great job, the NHL does a great job, and I know every single guy in that dressing room has a lot of fun."

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