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Drake cherishes Cup opportunity

Veteran forward glad to be skating and not fishing

Friday, 05.16.2008 / 2:49 PM ET / Features
By Michael Caples  - Detroit Red Wings Staff Writer
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Drake cherishes Cup opportunity
DETROIT – Last May, Dallas Drake was on a boat somewhere, fishing for bass. Now he finds himself a win away from playing in his first Stanley Cup final.

“It’s my passion to do in the off-season,” said Drake about fishing. “Hopefully I have another month or so to go before that happens.”

Drake, a 14-year NHL veteran who turned 39 in February 4 has reached the conference finals only once. He was with the St. Louis Blues, who lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in 2001. A lack of postseason runs makes this season even more special for the native of Trail, British Columbia.

“Very, very fortunate,” Drake said. “You don’t realize how hard it is to get here. As a young player, you think for whatever reason you’re going to get a chance year after year, and it just doesn’t come along very often. You have to cherish it; you have to go out and play like it’s possibly the last game of your career, and have fun with it. That’s how I approach things. Have as much fun as I can, enjoy it, and also I’ve learned a real valuable lesson that it doesn’t come along very often.”

Drake’s last championship run was in 1991, when he helped Northern Michigan to a national NCAA championship. He compiled 214 points in four seasons with the Wildcats, playing for current Michigan State coach Rick Comley.

Now, Drake and the Red Wings are only five wins away from hockey’s ultimate goal. The rugged right winger said that it would be impossible to not think about the possibility of hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup.

“I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve thought about that,” he said. “That’s hard not to think about, obviously you think about playing at home or winning the Stanley Cup and raising the Stanley Cup above your head, obviously that creeps into your mind, especially when you’re lying in bed tossing and turning.”

Detroit coach Mike Babcock said that he and general manager Ken Holland were excited about the possibility of bringing Drake back to Hockeytown, where he started his career. 

“I remember when Kenny called me,” Babcock said.  “He said, ‘Dallas Drake is available, he wants to be a Red Wing.’ I said, let’s sign him.”

Drake was a sixth round draft pick of the Red Wings in 1989. After playing one season in Detroit, Drake was traded to Winnipeg during the 1993-94 season. He traveled with the Jets to Phoenix, skating with the Coyotes until 2000, when he signed with the Blues. Drake captained the Blues for two seasons before being placed on waivers before Detroit signed him to a one-year contract last July.
 
Drake has been a physical force in the playoffs, helping lead the Red Wings through wins over Nashville and Colorado in the first two rounds. Against the Predators and Avs combined, Drake registered 20 hits.
He also had a highlight reel-like hit on Stephane Robidas in Game 2 that sent the Stars’ defenseman flying into the boards.

Babcock said that Drake’s postseason play is exactly what the organization was hoping for.

“We didn't get Dallas to play for the regular-season,” Babcock said. 

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom believes Drake is thoroughly enjoying this time.

“I think he’s having a blast,” Lidstrom said. “Just coming from a team that didn’t make the playoffs to coming here and getting a chance to play on a good team; we’re on the top of the league, winning the Presidents’ Trophy and going deep into the playoffs. I think he’s just having a blast just getting a chance to experience this much at this stage of his career.”

Lidstrom said that Drake’s physical presence on the ice comes from his determination to help the team keep winning.

“He knows his job, he gives out a lot of hits but he takes a lot of hits too,” Lidstrom said. “I think that’s one of his strengths, he’s going to get up, he knows his role on this team, he’s not going to back down to anything.”

Coming to the Wings has its price, however. Drake’s wife, Amy, and their four children live in northern Michigan while Drake has stayed closer to Joe Louis Arena.

“I think at times this year it probably was hard for him,” Babcock said. “He has four kids, his wife living in Traverse City. I'm sure she has given it to him a few times about it. ‘What are you doing down here and I'm up here driving the kids to activities?’ ”

Drake said that since his children are still young, they don’t fully understand the significance of what their dad is hoping to achieve in the upcoming weeks.

“They understand it, but they don’t really know what it means yet,” Drake said. “They know how many more wins we have to get, but they don’t really know what that means yet.”


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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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