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Published: Tuesday, 7/15/2008

Red Wings s Dallas Drake retires after 15 seasons

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DETROIT Dallas Drake came to Detroit a year ago, returning to where he began his professional career 15 years before.

Now, having raised the Stanley Cup above his head for the first time, the veteran forward has decided to hang up his skates.

Drake announced his retirement Tuesday, six weeks after the Red Wings defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins and captured the league championship.

I think it s a good way for me to go out, he said on a conference call with reporters.

Drake was a sixth-round pick in the 1989 entry draft. He began his career in Detroit in 1992 after playing four seasons at the University of Northern Michigan.

The Red Wings traded Drake to Winnipeg in 1994. He went on to play in Phoenix and St. Louis before Detroit signed him to a one-year contract in July 2007.

The 39-year-old Drake said he s still mentally fit to play, but that the wear and tear on my body after 16 years of professional hockey has become impossible to ignore.

I just don t recover very well anymore, he said, adding, physically, I m done.

Drake ended the 2006-07 season on the Blues injured reserve with a wrist injury.

He has several minor injuries this season.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said Drake was a big part of us winning the Stanley Cup this year, especially citing his physical style of play.

The physical pounding that Dallas laid on the other teams defenses is something we didn t have in the last couple of years, Holland said.

Holland said the team signed Drake as a perfect third-line, fourth-line player as the Wings looked to improve on their 2007 loss in the Western Conference finals to the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

When the Wings defeated the Penguins in Game 6 of the finals in June, Drake was the second player to raise the Cup, after captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

He would get to hold it again before too long: Drake said he planned to pick up the Cup later Tuesday for a two-day visit to his hometown of Rossland, British Columbia.

He said he will bring the Cup to Traverse City, where he lives with his wife and four children, on Sept. 1.

Drake has 177 goals, 300 assists and 885 penalty minutes in 1,009 regular-season games. He has 14 goals, 19 assists and 79 penalty minutes in 90 playoff contests.

On the same conference call, Holland said he expects to speak later this week with free agent Chris Chelios, who will turn 47 next season.

He wants to come back. I told him we ve got a spot for him. We both know the ballpark we re in, salary-wise, Holland said, adding that completing a deal shouldn t a problem.

With other signings, including winger Marian Hossa, Holland said some final negotiations with players would involve some tough decisions.

We re going to be real close to the cap this year, he said.



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