Stanley Cup Finals

An Open Letter to Kris Draper

DENVER - MARCH 04:  Kris Draper #33 of the Detroit Red Wings warms up prior to facing the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on March 4, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Red Wings defeated the Avalanche 3-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Jennie LuptakCorrespondent IJune 14, 2009

Kris,

Losing sucks, doesn't it?

I know. I was there last year, barely stomaching the sight of your captain—Nicklas Lidstrom—becoming the first European to lead his team to the Stanley Cup. It was bad that the series didn't go the full seven, but it was worse to see the Red Wings lifting Lord Stanley on Mellon Arena ice. I wished I could bottle that feeling.

But even in defeat, even through the complete and utter dejection that was written on their faces, the Penguins shook hands with every last one of your players.

Every. Last. One.

That means our captain—Sidney Crosby—who very likely had just experienced what could only be described utter heartbreak, waited for you to finish your celebratory hugs and high fives, shook your hands, and slunk into the locker room

I can't say the same for your captain.

No, your captain left without shaking our captain's hand. And no matter how you try to spin it, it did not happen the other way around.

Did the Penguins take too long in celebrating? It's possible. You won your first Cup in 1997, just over a week after your 26th birthday.

Do you remember that feeling?

It probably felt like all your childhood dreams coming true simultaneously and thunderously. You were with your best friends playing the sport you loved on biggest stage in the world. And you had won.

You won.

That’s how our captain felt.

Do I blame your captain? Not at all. He was patient. He waited. But in the end, the sight was too much and, maybe, the pain was too great.

But he skated off first. And our captain made it to the handshake line.

Had our captain been the accuser, I would expect nothing less than a staunch defense. But he wasn’t, and you took the time and energy to cast aspersions on a celebration and a moment so pure it practically burns.

In a series for the ages, you lost. It’s an awful feeling but, as the saying goes, “never let ‘em know how much you’re hurt.” Take that ache, that perceived  slight, and keep it with you. Every day during until training camp opens, remind yourself how it felt.

That’s what our captain would do.

That’s what your captain would do.

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