The end has come for Kris Draper
, and along with it comes the end of an era for the Detroit Red Wings
According to reports, Draper, 40, will announce his retirement Tuesday, ending a 20-year career, the final 17 of which were spent with Detroit. The Red Wings have scheduled an 11 a.m. press conference at Joe Louis Arena.
It has been a summer of seismic shifts within the Detroit organization. In May, defensive linchpin Brian Rafalski
surprised almost everyone by calling it quits at 37, with a year still left on his contract.
Then, earlier this week, goalie Chris Osgood
announced his retirement, citing an uncertainty that his body can withstand another year of hockey.
Draper, who played his first game for the Red Wings back in 1993, is now set to join that pair in retirement. Draper, an unrestricted free agent, was squeezed out because of the development of some of the organization's younger players.
According to most reports, the Red Wings plan on carrying 14 forwards. They already have 13 spots filled, leaving only one job open at camp. Many believe that final spot is being held for prospect Cory Emmerton
, who could be lost to waivers if not on the NHL roster.
And Draper, who broke into the League with Winnipeg in 1990, had little desire to look for work outside of the Motor City.
"Detroit is home," Draper told the Detroit News last week.
Now, like Osgood and Rafalski before him, Draper faces life away from the Red Wings.
The Red Wings, in turn, face life without another piece of their championship core. Since its last championship in 2008, Detroit has said farewell to goalies Osgood and Dominik Hasek
, defensemen Rafalski, Chris Chelios
, Brett Lebda
and Andreas Lilja
, and forwards Draper, Kirk Maltby
, Tomas Kopecky
and Dallas Drake
, who retired immediately after Detroit won the Cup.
Few of those players, though, were as tied to Detroit as Draper, who joined the organization in 1993 when the Winnipeg Jets
, who had drafted him No. 63, traded him to the Red Wings for one dollar.
Draper provided significant return on Detroit's investment.
After a short apprenticeship in the American Hockey League, he joined the parent club and quickly found his place on the team's energy line.
Eventually, that line -- originally made up of Draper, Kirk Maltby
and Joe Kocur
-- came to be known as the Grind Line, one of the most famous three-man units in the Red Wings rich history. Kocur was eventually replaced by Darren McCarty
In his career with Detroit, Draper played in 1,137 games, compiling 158 goals, 361 points and 781 penalty minutes. More importantly, he played in 220 Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Red Wings, registering 24 goals and 46 points and providing an invaluable checking presence as Detroit won four titles during his tenure.
Draper also represented Canada on numerous occasions in international play, winning gold medals at the junior and senior level, including a first-place finish in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.