After winning the Cup, Dallas Drake goes out on top
BY GEORGE SIPPLE • FREE PRESS SPORTS WRITER • July 16, 2008
Red Wings forward Dallas Drake decided to end his career as a Stanley Cup champion.
Drake, 39, announced his retirement Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. He'll celebrate his first full day of retirement today with the Stanley Cup in his hometown of Rossland, British Columbia.
"After winning the Stanley Cup this year, there's not a better way for me to go out," Drake said.
Drake said the 15 years he spent in the NHL had taken a toll physically on his body.
"I love the game, probably as much as I ever have," Drake said. "Mentally, I think I still really want to play. But my body just got to a point where I just don't recover well anymore."
He said he didn't decide to retire until after the Wings beat the Penguins in the Cup finals.
"I think I was leaning one way, but definitely after winning the Stanley Cup, that was kind of the icing on the cake for me," Drake said.
Drake said if the Wings had lost to the Penguins "it would have made my decision a lot harder."
Don't expect Drake to change his mind. A fan of the Green Bay Packers, Drake said he won't have the change of heart quarterback Brett Favre has had recently. Favre made an emotional retirement speech in March but said this week he wasn't ready to commit to that decision.
"I'm a little disappointed in Brett right now," Drake said. "If he comes back, I want him to come back and play for Green Bay. But no, you don't have to worry about me doing that."
Drake, who played his first 119 games in the NHL with the Wings, was reacquired this season because of his leadership, his willingness to play whatever role was needed and his willingness to provide a physical presence.
He had three goals and three assists and 41 penalty minutes in 65 games this past season. He had a goal, three assists and 12 penalty minutes in 22 playoff games.
General manager Ken Holland said Drake's value to the team increased over the course of the playoffs. Holland said the coaches would talk before games about the need to get Drake ice time early in games "to really set the tone for our team physically."
"Dallas brings so many intangibles to the team," Holland said. "Tremendous determination, physical play, sacrifice ... he was just looking for an opportunity to come play for our team and bring whatever he could. As the year wore on, he became more valuable."
Captain Nicklas Lidstrom made sure Drake was the first player he passed the Cup to during the on-ice celebration following Game 6 in Pittsburgh.
Drake said he would participate in a small parade with the Cup today in Rossland. He plans to show the Cup around town with stops at a senior center and a mine, before having a private dinner with family. Drake will get a second day with the Cup at his home in Traverse City this summer.
Drake starred at Northern Michigan before being drafted by the Wings in 1989. He played in 1,009 games with the Wings, Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues. He finished with 177 goals and 300 assists. In 90 playoff games, he had 14 goals and 19 assists.
Contact GEORGE SIPPLE at 313-223-4796 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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