Former Detroit Red Wings forward Kris Draper was one of the central figures of the legendary Red Wings/Colorado Avalanche rivalry in the late 1990s and early 2000s. After all, it was his being viciously hit from behind by Claude Lemieux that officially started things.
Check out the video of the hit, and of course the legendary Fight Night at the Joe the next season.
Draper wrote about the experience in an article for The Players Tribune, in which he shares his thoughts and gives a unique insiders perspective to the fierce rivalry, and in part to the legendary incident that kicked off the rivalry.
“I didn’t know my face was caved in, but I knew it wasn’t good,” Draper wrote.
He’d taken the puck along the boards in front of Detroit’s bench before being viciously hit from behind by Lemieux. Draper’s face smashed into the boards, and trainer John Wharton immediately rushed onto the ice to assist him.
Draper goes on to explain that he blacked out several times, and the subsequent struggles of his rehabilitation.
The entire article is a must-read for any Red Wings fan, and frankly, any sports fan looking to get a terrific insider’s look at the legendary rivalry.