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Birthday 'doesn't get any better' for Draper

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – The Red Wings’ self-appointed crown prince of birthday celebrations turned
Draper had three teeth loosened on this play when he scored a first-period goal in Game 6 against Dallas.
37-years-old on Saturday.

Known for blasting teammates in the face with a shaving cream pie on their big days, center Kris Draper managed to avoid a foamy face wash from the Red Wings after Saturday’s morning skate before Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Maybe his teammates were more focused on the task at hand – beating the Pittsburgh Penguins at Joe Louis Arena – or perhaps it was the three loose bottom teeth in Draper’s head that prevented him from incurring the wrath.

“There’s a statute (of limitations),” Kirk Maltby said. “We have a few days to get him.”

Nicknamed the "Birthday Bandit" by teammates, Draper is now sporting braces on his lower teeth, hardware he’s worn since Game 6 against Dallas when he scored a goal on a deflected puck off his lower jaw. It took six stitches to close the cut to his chin.

Draper has victimized such teammates as Jiri Hudler, Darren McCarty, Henrik Zetterberg, Chris Osgood and Dan Cleary.

Fortunately, Draper's shenanigans has never gone awry, though Cleary didn't suffer through sneezing bout caused by an allergic reaction the the shaving cream.

With or without the locker room ritual on Saturday, Draper had to be the happiest player in the Red Wings’ locker room on Saturday morning. And why not?

For Draper, Saturday is the perfect trifecta: he's playing in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals –  on his birthday – and his newborn daughter, Kamryn Rose, came home from the hospital for the first time.

Ask if playing Game 1, on his birthday, was the best present he could imagine, Draper said, “I would have to say that this one is tough to beat. Playing in the Stanley Cup finals and bringing my daughter home this morning, I mean, it doesn’t get any better than that. This is something that I’ll certainly always remember.”

Kamryn Rose was born on Thursday, measuring in at eight pounds, 13 ounces and 21 inches.

While Draper is pretty certain that this is the first time that he’s ever played hockey on his birthday, one thing is crystal clear.

“The best gift that I got when I was a kid was probably one of those Big Wheels,” said Draper who has three goals and an assist in these playoffs. “I was pretty pumped when I got that. That was probably my last big birthday present.”

But a Wings’ win in Game 1 tonight would be a bigger deal.

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