Detroit Red Wings presented by AT&T
2015-16 Ticket Plans Available Follow @DetroitRedWings on Twitter! Follow the Red Wings on Facebook! Follow @DetroitRedWings on Instagram! Follow OfficialDRW on Snapchat! Get Red Wings Email Updates Get Red Wings Text Updates Get the Detroit Red Wings Official Mobile App

  • RSS

An end of an era

Draper's retirement turns page on famed Grind Line

Tuesday, 07.26.2011 / 2:37 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor |
Share with your Friends

An end of an era
DETROIT – When it comes to forward line combinations, the Grind Line will never be mistaken for the Red Wings’ famed Production Line, anchored by Gordie Howe and Ted Lindsay. However, the Grind Line led for years by center Kris Draper will be remembered for having its own impact on a generation of Wings’ fans.
In order to view this page you need JavaScript and Flash Player 9+ support!

The end of an era was announced Tuesday when Draper, the last remaining Grind Line member, retired following a highly-successful 20-season NHL career. Mainly consisting of Draper and forward Kirk Maltby – with enforcers Joey Kocur and Darren McCarty shuffled in – the Grind Line was best known for wearing down the opposition’s top scoring lines.

“It was special,” Draper said. “Malts and I talked about it when he retired. There was just something, whether it was Mac playing right wing or Joey playing right wing – there was something special with that group with those guys and the type of characters. For Malts and I, we knew that we were protected. We could play on that edge.”

The line’s name didn’t come over night, Draper said, as he shared a story about former equipment manager John Wharton, who insisted that Draper, Maltby and Kocur adopt a moniker during the 1997 Stanley Cup playoffs.

“We were going through the playoffs with St. Louis,” Draper recalled. “Johnny Wharton said, ‘You guys need a line. You need a name for your line.’ So we threw out some stuff and the Grind Line came about and Joey stepped up and said, ‘That’s it. It’s the Grind Line.’ ”

That spring, the Wings went on to win the Stanley Cup, sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers and its top scoring line known as the Legion of Doom with Eric Lindros, John LeClair and Mikael Renberg. And it was the Grind Line that played an invaluable role.  

“Scotty Bowman trusted us with a lot of different situations,” said Draper, who is among five players to play in more than 1,000 games for the Wings. “If you have the confidence in your coach that you can go out and play in these situations, you want to go out there and do it, and you want to do it well.

“I think that’s why that line was so special. I’ve seen highlights – Mac going hat trick in the conference finals against the Colorado Avalanche and the goals that Malts scored, and he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated; we broke the jinx. Things like that. We were able to do so much, and to be so successful, but Scotty thought that we could play in any situation, and that’s why we were able to do so well.”

Together, Draper and Maltby won four Stanley Cup titles with the Wings, and built an unbreakable friendship.

“On a personal level, Kris is a great friend. We roomed together quite a bit, and obviously played together a lot,” Maltby said. “We stuck up for each other and were in some tense situations – both good and bad – but at the end of the day we both had each other’s back. He’s a great person and had a great career.”

Draper’s energetic enthusiasm is what Kocur said he’ll always remember.
“He was intense. As bad as you wanted to work for yourself, you had to work for him, because he would let you know it,” Kocur said. “If you made a mistake, he was going to tell you, which made us all better. He made you accountable.”

Whether it was the heated rivalry born out of a brutal incident one May evening in Denver, or an overtime goal that helped the team secured a second straight Cup championship, Kris Draper and the Grind Line will forever live in the hearts and minds of a generation of Detroit hockey fans.

“The Grind Line is over,” Draper said. “Basically, the last one retired, but we were able to put out so many good memories. We did it right and I enjoyed playing with them, for sure.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill




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


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
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38 is the official Web site of the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit Red Wings and are trademarks of the Detroit Red Wings. NHL, the NHL Shield and the word mark NHL Winter Classic are registered trademarks and Original Six is a trademark of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2015 Detroit Red Wings and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
© NHL 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Advertise/SponsorshipsOlympia Entertainment | Code of Conduct | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | Employment | Contact Us | Terms of Use | Site Map