Draper Ends an Era

The Grind Line era of the Detroit Red Wings officially ended on Tuesday, as the famed line’s final member retired.

Kris Draper announced his retirement after seventeen seasons with the Red Wings, finishing his career as one of only five players to play more than 1,000 games in Detroit.

“I never thought I was gonna last this long,” Draper admitted at a Joe Louis Arena press conference, at which he thanked seemingly everyone he came into contact with as a Red Wing.

Draper was acquired by Detroit from the Winnipeg Jets for one dollar on June 30, 1993. En route to the 1997 Stanley Cup Championship, he joined with Kirk Maltby and Joey Kocur to form the Grind Line, a fan-favorite group that also included Darren McCarty.

Draper finished his career with 1157 games played, all but 20 with the Red Wings. He scored 161 goals and 203 assists. He also represented Canada at the World Junior Championships in 1990 and 1991, the World Championships in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2005, the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, and the 2006 Olympics.

He will take a currently-undefined front office role with Detroit.

Red Wings – Blue Jackets Lineup Notes

Darren McCarty, back from his one-game stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins, will miss tonight’s Red Wings – Blue Jackets matchup. McCarty tweaked a groin injury at Detroit’s morning skate.

Derek Meech will remain at forward to replace McCarty on the fourth line after originally expecting to be a healthy scratch.

The only other major lineup change from Wednesday’s loss to Montreal is the return of Dan Cleary, who will skate alongside Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler on the third line.

Chris Osgood will replace Ty Conklin in the Red Wings’ crease.

Helm Called Up, McCarty Sent to Grand Rapids

Darren Helm will be in the lineup for the Red Wings tonight as the Montreal Canadiens visit Detroit, having been called up from the Grand Rapids Griffins this morning.

To make room for him in the lineup, Darren McCarty was sent down to Grand Rapids. McCarty cleared waivers last week and was eligible to me moved to the AHL.

Bruce MacLeod reports Helm skated on the third line alongside Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler at today’s morning skate.

MacLeod also notes that the change is likely to be temporary, as the Red Wings would prefer to see Helm play more minutes and was only recalled for energy as the Wings return from a road trip for three games in four nights.

“Even if he plays four minutes a night, I’m not happy,” said general manager Ken Holland. “I want him to play hockey.”

Red Wings – Flames: Detroit Lineup Notes

The Red Wings continue their Western Canada road trip Saturday night in Calgary but there are already lineup reports coming in for tomorrow night’s game.

Khan says that the Wings will have Niklas Kronwall back in the lineup but that Tomas Holmstrom will remain out. Derek Meech will be shifted to forward to cover for the open roster spot on wing.

Tomas Kopecky remains on Detroit’s top line, taking Holmstrom’s spot alongside Pavel Datsyuk and Marian Hossa. Meech will skate with Kris Draper and Darren McCarty on the fourth line.

Ty Conklin gets the start.

Conklin Blanks Oilers in First Wings Home Start

Goaltender Ty Conklin made his first home start as a member of the Detroit Red Wings a memorable one, stopping all twenty shots he faced in leading the Wings to a 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers.

Conklin is now 5-1 with Detroit.

Niklas Kronwall‘s five-on-three goal 6:11 into the game would have been enough for the win but it didn’t have to be.

Kronwall scored on a quick wrister from the right faceoff circle after jumping in from the point to take a pass from Henrik Zetterberg.

Just 3:00 into the second period Mikael Samuelsson put Detroit up by a pair, tipping a Brett Lebda pass from the corner past Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson.

Jiri Hudler deflected a shot off of defenseman Sheldon Souray and into the net with 5:42 left in the second and Johan Franzen scored on a great individual effort midway through the third, outwaiting Roloson before lifting a shot from at the goal line off the goalie’s glove and into the net.

Conklin was rarely tested in what might have been Detroit’s best defensive effort of the season. His stops on back-to-back two-on-ones in the second period kept Edmonton from getting back in the game.

Roloson made 37 saves on 41 shots in net for the Oilers.

Chris Osgood will get his chance against Edmonton on Thursday when the Red Wings visit Rexall Place for a rematch against the Oilers.

The assist on Samuelsson’s goal was Lebda’s first point of the season… Darren McCarty fought Zach Stortini three minutes into the game.

Wings – ‘Hawks Pregame Notes

Andreas Lilja returns to the Red Wings lineup tonight after an appendectomy earlier this week. Derek Meech will be scratched to make room for him on the blueline.

Darren McCarty says he’s making his season debut tonight but there’s been no word on who would be out to make room for him.

Ty Conklin gets the start with Chris Osgood having gone last night. He’ll be up against Nikolai Khabibulin, who’s outplayed Cristobal Huet in the Chicago crease.

The jerseys for the Winter Classic will be unveiled during the first intermission.

The game is supposed to be on FSN Detroit but Comcast’s channel guide currently says college football is scheduled at that time. This is making it hard for me to set my DVR, which I need to do since I expect to miss most of the game hosting a Halloween party.

Wings’ “Final” Roster Confirmed

The Red Wings have announced their “final” roster going into the regular season.

After practicing with the team this morning, Jonathan Ericsson and Ville Leino were sent down to the Grand Rapids Griffins. Excluding the three players on injured reserve (Darren McCarty, Chris Chelios and Jimmy Howard) the Wings now have a 22-man roster.

Rumors of a trade involving Kyle Quincey continue but nothing has been confirmed.

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