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Notebook: Drake reminded of his longevity

by Kevin Fitzhenry / Detroit Red Wings
Drake has added grit and some punch since returning to Hockeytown last July. Here he mixes it up with Blackhawks forward Adam Burish earlier in the season.
DETROIT – The 1,000-game milestone has perhaps lost some of its luster over the years with 30 franchise clubs and over 700 players currently in the NHL. Not since the days of the Original Six has playing 1,000 games been considered a major accomplishment.


But that won’t tarnish the achievement for one Red Wings’ player tonight.

“It just means you’ve been in the league a long time,” said right wing Dallas Drake, who will play in his 1,000th career game when the Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at Joe Louis Arena.
 
“Not a lot of guys get the opportunity to play as long as I have,” Drake said. “Early on in your career you’re just trying to stay in the league as long as you can. Then, big picture is you want to win the Stanley Cup.”

Only two other current Red Wings -- defensemen Nicklas Lidstrom (1,239) and Chris Chelios (1605) -- have played more games. Left wing Kirk Matlby (931) and center Chris Draper (945) could possibly reach the milestone as early as next season.
  
Drake, who was drafted by the Red Wings in the sixth round of the 1989 draft, played only 119 games in Detroit before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets. He played in St. Louis for six seasons before singing with Detroit as a free agent last July.
 
“It’s a hug accomplishment,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “He’s a great edition to our hockey club because of the integrity, commitment, character, and how hard he plays the game. When you bring in good people it’s contagious. He has lot a fun with the game; he’s here first thing in the morning and he wants to play. It’s a real honor to have him here.”

During tonight’s game, many of Drake’s former teammates will congratulate him via taped messages on the JLA Jumbotron over center ice.

Drake said he certainly appreciates the thoughts of his teammates.

“You ask any player and that’s what they miss the most about the game: is the camaraderie of the dressing room,” he said. “No matter what happens, you can always have a good time with the guys.”
  
Drake is currently one assist away from 300, yet another milestone he can accomplish tonight against Chicago. He also played in career game No. 300 against the Blackhawks on March 20, 1997.

INJURY REPORT: Tomas Holmstrom will miss his second straight game with a sore groin. Holmstrom, who has not skated since Friday had an MRI and ultrasound; both producing negative results.
He said he hopes to begin skating by the end of the week.
 
Chelios will be back in the lineup tonight. Chelios has missed six games with a right leg injury.

HOW SWEDE IT IS: Fans attending tonight’s game will receive a treat: a free poster featuring Detroit’s “Swedish Eight.” (Jonathan Ericsson, Andreas Lilja, Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Lidstrom, Niklas Kronwall, Mikael Samuelsson and Johan Franzen.)
 
The players seemed to enjoy gathering for the photo shoot, which occurred at Joe Louis Arena last week.

“It was fun,” Holmstrom said, “We don’t get a lot of opportunity to do that kind of stuff.”

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