I blew past this earlier, and it's to my own shame and neglect that I did.
Dallas Drake retired this month after a 15-year NHL career. He was the "Let's Get Him His First Cup" guy on the 2007-8 roster, having been originally signed by the Wings way back in 1989.
When I started hearing Drake's name mentioned this year, my first thought was, "He's back? When did he leave?" Shockingly enough for me, his previous season in Detroit was 1993-4, when he was traded to the Jets mid-year.
So I went back and looked at his career stats: 1009 GP, 177 G, 477 Pts. He's no first liner, but he was always a solid penalty killer and tenacious player on the ice.
Most of all, Drake reminds me why I love this sport. Here's a guy who played in the league for 15 years, rarely made the papers, just chugged his way through. He's married, three kids, and I'm sure they enjoyed moving from city to city. I never thought about Drake until they mentioned after Game 6 that it was his first Cup, which was one of those "Oh, yeah, that's right!" facts I had filed away right next to the street address of my former elementary school in Barrington, Illinois. Watching him skate around the ice with the Cup...knowing how much of a reward that must be.
Life does not necessarily reward those most deserving, but every once in a while, the fates throw a bone to let us know that while the deck may be stacked, it's still possible to draw the proverbial five to our 16 with a king showing.
Godspeed, Mr. Drake, and thank you.