Classic Kirk Maltby.
Kirk Maltby called it quits on Tuesday instead of spending the year in Grand Rapids, thus making Kris Draper the one remaining member of the famed Grind Line. We're one step closer to the end of an era. This makes me feel really old. Maltby's always been a favorite of mine. I really can't remember far enough back to a time when he wasn't part of the Wings' roster. As much as we loved watching him play, other teams hated facing him. I challenge you to find someone in the league who gave a better facewash than Maltby did. He'll go down as one of the legendary Wings not because of his goal-scoring prowess (though Mickey Redmond loved to remind fans how Maltby scored 50 goals in juniors back in the day), but because of his loyalty and dedication to winning. He was a team guy, and we were lucky to get to watch him for all these years.
I keep thinking back to last season when his perfectly-timed shoulder surgery happened to clear up just enough cap space to alleviate the Wings' crunch. I don't doubt that there was a problem with his shoulder, but I will always suspect that he probably could've held out until the off-season if the Wings hadn't had to fit under the cap. It stuck me then as the ultimate act of team loyalty and (as we all knew it would) that loyalty has been repaid with a scouting job in the organization. I love the way the Wings take care of their good soldiers.