TRAVERSE CITY, Mich.
– It’s not his first option, but Kris Draper knows that it’s better to play it safe with his groin injury, which he suffered in an intra-squad scrimmage Saturday.
“It’s frustrating. It’s disappointing,” Draper said. “You train so hard through the summer, and I felt really good heading into camp, conditioning-wise. It’s just a freak thing. I got locked up with someone in front of the net. My left leg got pulled out and I felt it in my groin.”
The Red Wings will keep 14 forwards on the roster, and with nine spots already locked-up, Draper, Justin Abdelkader
, Mattias Ritola, Darren Helm
, Patrick Eaves
and Drew Miller
are fighting for ice-time on the fourth line.
Draper, 39, said that he’s receiving 3-4 treatments a day from the Red Wings’ athletic therapist Piet Van Zant.
“The one thing that Piet (Van Zant) said is that it was a contact injury and that it wasn’t like I was out there skating and something happened,” Draper said. “It’s better that that was the case then me straight-out practicing and pulling it.
“I’ll go back to Detroit on Wednesday and re-evaluate the situation, and go from there, but as much as I want to be out there, it’s early and I’m going to be real smart about it. If Wednesday I don’t get on the ice and start feeling better I’m sure that Piet will grab me and talk about what we want to do from there.”
Draper has experienced groin injuries in the past, but they’ve usually been at the end of the season or in the playoffs. With his latest setback, he’s willing to be more cautious.
“There’s so much hockey to be played,” Draper said. “In the playoffs you do whatever you can to get back onto the ice, but in this situation I have to be smart about it. … I’m not doing myself any favors by going out there and I can’t skate the way I want to skate. That’s where common sense comes in and I’m not usually good with that, but I’m going to have to listen to Piet on this one.”
Coach Mike Babcock was equally as guarded about Draper’s status.
“Anytime the say groin, they say, ‘Ah, he might be back tomorrow’ then it’s three weeks they show up,” Babcock said. “I don’t know.”