It's the Original nix

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:10 AM ET

DETROIT -- Something is definitely wrong with the schedule when Detroit and Toronto, geographic neighbours and rivals since the dawn of the NHL, only play each other once a year.

"To have an opportunity to play Toronto more, a great Original Six rivalry, along with Montreal and Boston, would be great,'' said Red Wings veteran and Toronto native Kris Draper. "With the history of the game and the history of these organizations, they should be playing each other a lot more.''

As it stands now, it's once a year. Last year, for the first time in the history of the league, they didn't play each other at all.

"They're always fun games in Toronto,'' said Draper. "We were there for the pre-season this year and it had the feel of a regular season game, sold-out crowd getting right into it. It's fun hockey to be a part of. Even though it was only pre-season, guys wanted to play in those games.

"That's the unfortunate thing about them being in the east and us being in the west, we just don't see them enough."

SHADES OF GREY

The Red Wings must have a pipeline to the fountain of youth. With an average age of just under 31, they seem to have the market cornered on greybeards. Dominik Hasek is 41, Chris Chelios is 44, Nick Lidstrom is 36, Kris Draper and Robert Lang are 35, and last season 36-year-old Mathieu Schneider became the oldest defenceman in NHL history to score a hat-trick - a record he broke earlier this year, at 37.

"Physical conditioning, staying on top of it in the off season, it's really made the game enjoyable and fun,'' said Schneider.

"I played with Chelly my first year in Montreal and he's a guy I looked up to for a long time. He set the bar for guys like me.

"We train with the same trainer in California, we've been out there for years. I'm a big believer that if you take care of your body and have a good set of wheels you can keep playing this game for a long time.''

Not many players can say they scored their very first hat-trick in their 18th season.

"It was nice to finally get one, and not have to wait another 18 years for the second one.''


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