Thursday, June 5, 2008
Drake's dream comes true
Veteran, 38, is first to take Cup from captain Lidstrom as his wins his first championship.
Dana Wakiji / The Detroit News
PITTSBURGH -- Dallas Drake nearly called it quits. At age 38, he knew he didn't have many more chances to win a Stanley Cup.
Then he returned to the team that drafted him in the sixth round in the 1989 NHL entry draft -- the Detroit Red Wings.
Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, after the Red Wings had held on for a 3-2 victory in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Drake's lifelong dream came true.
After taking the Stanley Cup from commissioner Gary Bettman, captain Nick Lidstrom took his lap and then headed right for Drake.
"Unbelievable honor. I didn't expect that," Drake said of being the second player to hoist the Cup. "The guys pushed me out there. I couldn't be more thankful and grateful and so many words I want to say right now, I can't get them off my tongue."
Lidstrom said he had been planning the moment for quite a while.
"I started thinking about it, actually, in the first round," Lidstrom said. "I didn't tell anyone about it. But I started thinking about if we were to go the whole way, who should be the guy I gave it to first. And looking at all the players on our team, Dallas is one of the first ones I played with. He came in the year after I did. He's been in the league for 16 years. He had a long, good career. And he had never been to the Final before. So it felt natural for me to give it to him for all the effort and hours and everything he's put into the game, and not having a chance to hoist the Cup yet."
Drake's teammates were as thrilled for Drake as they were for themselves.
"I'm so happy for him," defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. "To be in the league for that long and to come to our team when he was basically going to quit the game, we're so happy to have him."
Drake said the last few moments of Game 6, when the Penguins had pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and were peppering Chris Osgood with shots, were extremely nerve-wracking.
"It was a close game, too close for a lot of us old guys on the bench," Drake said. "Our tickers can't take all that stuff but we managed to get through it. Very special feeling.
"It's unbelievable. It's a lifelong dream of every kid growing up in Canada and the United States to win that thing. I can't put into words exactly how I feel right now."
But Drake said he knew exactly how the Cup felt when he lifted it for the first time.
"It felt very heavy to me," Drake said. "I think it's more than 35 pounds. I'm going to get a scale out when I get it home."
No matter how heavy the Cup is, Drake said he'll never forget the feeling.
"I didn't think I was ever going to get a chance to lift it up, but a dream came true tonight," Drake said.