Draper points to Wings line that can grind it out

Terry Foster
The Detroit News

Detroit — Kris Draper is an original member of the Grind Line.

So it’s a big deal when he gives his stamp of approval to a reincarnated “grind” line of Luke Glendening, Landon Ferraro and Brendan Smith.

“No question,” said Draper, who played for the Red Wings from 1993-2011 and anchored the original Grind Line with Darren McCarty and Kirk Maltby. “They remind me of us.”

But don’t expect the new line to be named the Grind Line.

“We will have to come up with a new name for them,” Draper said. “They can’t just be the Grind Line.”

Regardless of the name, Draper sees similarities with the Glendening line, which takes the ice tonight in Game 7 of the first-round series against the Lightning. The line will be matched up often against Tampa Bay’s top line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Nesterov and Ondrej Palat — as it has all series.

“A lot of the (attention) they are getting is great and well-deserved,” Draper said. “They are doing a lot of the stuff we did. It was different because we had Darren McCarty and he was so physical and could create a lot of room. But a lot is the same.”

In fact, Draper laid out some Grind Line rules his group followed: They wanted to bring energy and toughness and get into the heads of opponents.

Draper said his team not only enjoyed going up against other top lines, but also loved being on the power play.

“We took a lot of pride in the penalty kill,” Draper said. “Those are the things role players these days love to do. This was like being on the power play for us. In the playoffs, when these players step up, it’s a huge boost for the hockey club. We might have been up against more talented lines, but they couldn’t outskate or outhustle us.”

Draper is especially proud of Glendening.

He watched Grand Rapids win the Calder Cup in 2013, and spoke a few times with Glendening, passing along some tips. He said Glendening is a hybrid of himself and Maltby.

“He goes into a scrum and has that smile like Maltby did,” Draper said. “And it frustrates high end players to go up against high energy players. That is what makes these guys so effective. Come playoff time, you are not going to outskate or outwork them. They are absolutely invaluable.”