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Pros cruise in inaugural Grind Line Challenge

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings

Some Red Wings alumni gathered at Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday where they accepted a 4-on-4 challenge from a group of players from Saginaw, Mich. (Photo by Dan Mannes/Detroit Red Wings)

DETROIT – It was the Red Wings’ version of Pros vs. Joes.

A collection of Wings alumni – who together scored more than 1,500 goals in over 8,300 NHL games – took on a group of challengers with eclectic skills Tuesday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena.

Kris Draper and his former infamous linemates accepted the first of five Grind Line Challenges this year from a group of friends, who drove from Saginaw, Mich., for a round of 4-on-4 hockey.

“It was good,” Draper said. “I mean, you look around the room and we’re breathing heavy, and we’re sweating, too. Obviously, we’re out to have fun and to have a good time, but bottom line: We’re not losing.”

Though it’s been a few years since the pros were competing for higher stakes, they certainly attacked Tuesday’s challenge with the same vigor as they trounced Bourdow’s Hockey Shop, 20-9.

Joining Draper and the Grind Liners – Joey Kocur, Kirk Maltby and Darren McCarty – were Wings’ legends Chris Osgood, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy and Dino Ciccarelli. All eight alumni have committed to play in the Alumni Showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs alumni, which is scheduled for Dec. 30 at Comerica Park.

“How can you not have fun with the guys that we had out there? It was awesome,” Draper said. “To be able to skate with these guys again, Dino, Murph, Cheli, obviously Ozzie, Mac and Malts, and Joey, we just had a real good crew and it was great that everyone could make it.”

For Draper, Tuesday’s tune-up was just the second time that he’s played in a winged-wheel jersey since May 12, 2011.

Grind Line Challenge

“I played in one alumni game and that was it,” said Draper, who is one of six players to play in 1,000 games for the Detroit franchise. “So, basically since Game 7 of my last game in San Jose that’s the second time that I’ve had the fully equipment on.”

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