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June 14, 2002 - Talking with ... Kris Draper
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Talking with ... Kris Draper

By Joanne C. Gerstner / The Detroit News

If there was a contest for the best playoff beard on the Red Wings, forward Kris Draper would be right up there among the winners. 

But Draper is itching to shave off his full, reddish-colored beard, which will only happen at the end of the playoffs and with the Wings winning the Stanley Cup.

Draper talked Wednesday about being so close to another championship, how he deals with the pressure and the tough task of finishing off the Hurricanes.

Q. How is not having Jiri Fischer in the lineup tonight going to affect the Wings?

A. We've played with guys missing before, I'm sure somebody will step up. Whether it's Jiri Slegr or somebody else, we'll be OK.

We have guys who have been working hard in practice just in case of something like this when they get called upon.

Whoever goes in will want to step up and play a big game for this hockey club. That's exactly what they do want, a chance to play and contribute. They've been working hard for the past seven weeks, just in case. 

It's an unfortunate situation, that Fisch had to be suspended. He's played unbelievable for us. He's turned into one heck of a defenseman. He's been physical, he's done everything for us.

Q. How do you stay calm knowing you are so close to winning the Cup again?

A. We're not getting caught up in this. We've worked too hard to put ourselves in this situation right now. We want to do everything we can to win the hockey game and that's it.

We know that Carolina is going to do everything they can to make sure they can force a Game 6. 

When you get an opportunity to eliminate a hockey club, you've got to do it at the first crack. This is our opportunity. 

Q. There are 10 Red Wings, yourself included, who are part of the two previous Stanley Cup champions. What does it mean to this group to possibly win another one together? 

A.Among us guys, there really hasn't been that much talk about that. When we start the playoffs, the goal is getting 16 wins. It takes so much to do that. 

And now here we are, one win away from the goal. 

Maybe down the road a little we'll look back and will have some good moments and thoughts to think about.