All three, along with many other locked-out NHL players, were looking for a place to play that was close to their metro Detroit homes. With the NHL season on the brink of cancellation, more and more players look for places to play to stay in game shape. Over 350 NHL players have signed with European teams. Others, such as Red Wings defenseman Jason Woolley, have been working out with college teams. Still more, including New Jersey Devils forward Scott Gomez and now Hatcher, Chelios and Draper, have signed with minor-league teams.
Chelios had talked of signing with the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves early on in the lockout. An unrestricted free agent, Chelios hopes to return to the NHL when the lockout ends.
Hatcher spent most of the 2003-04 NHL season recovering from a torn ACL and is looking to continue his rehabilitation on a more regular schedule.
Draper joins the Mechanics with the hope of earning a spot on Canada’s World Championship team this spring.
Red Wings forward Kirk Maltby was also rumored to be signing with Motor City but he denied those reports.
The Mechanics, a first-year team, are currently in last place in the UHL standings. They also announced that Detroit native Steve Shannon would take over as head coach from former Red Wing Garry Unger.