DETROIT – Dallas Drake waited 14 seasons to win the Stanley Cup.
After raising the hallowed trophy two days earlier, the veteran forward took in a few more of the spoils on Friday, riding in the back of a pickup truck as thousands of crazed Red Wings fans celebrated the franchise's latest NHL title with a parade through downtown.
"It's a special feeling," Drake said as fans chanted his name. "I couldn't be prouder right now.
"I'm a little bit taken aback by it."
For the third time this century, Detroit sports fans converged on the city's center to celebrate a major sports championship.
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Thousands of red-and-white-clad Wing nuts jammed Woodward Avenue for the chance to see members of the team that brought the Cup back to Hockeytown. It was ending with a rally at Hart Plaza on the city's riverfront
These Red Wings are following in the footsteps of the 2002 team and the 2004 Pistons, who celebrated their triumphs with similar downtown processions. The Red Wings clinched the Cup on Wednesday night in Pittsburgh.
As he rode down the parade route, goalie Chris Osgood said he hadn't been that emotional about the Cup win until the parade.
"It brings a tear to my eye right now. I've had to wipe away a few tears," Osgood said. "This is why I play in Detroit."
Forward Dan Cleary, the first man from Newfoundland to win the Cup, said on the parade route that the accomplishment is a high honor for him and his Canadian homeland.
"I think everybody back in Newfoundland is proud," he said. "I'm proud. I can't wait to bring the Cup home."
The last vehicle in the parade carried captain Nicklas Lidstrom, who proudly held the Cup aloft to the delight of the crowd.
The weather cooperated with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s when the parade featuring Red Wings players, coaches and staff kicked off before noon at the Hockeytown CafDe.
Many of the parade-goers, despite the stifling heat, wore Wings jerseys and other red-and-white gear. Some wore plush octopi on their heads, a nod to the team's mascot.
One woman even brought a real — albeit dead — octopus with her and swung it over her head, ala Joe Louis Arena building manager Al Sobotka.
And Osgood became Red Wings fans' knight in shining armor — literally.
New Baltimore resident Ernie Schutt spied an Italian steel suit of armor in a friend's garage and inspiration struck.
"I saw it, man, that would be cool with Ozzie on it," said Schutt, 51.
He washed it, added an Osgood jersey, baseball glove and a couple of stuffed octopi to complete the look. He dragged it along the parade route by placing the torso and head in a red wagon, but left the legs at home.
"I had people in front of my house taking pictures of it with their kids," he said.
Blake Gordon had planned on attending his final day of the fourth grade in Oakland County's Commerce Township, but was surprised when his mother allowed him and his brothers to attend the Red Wings celebration.
"This is excellent, exciting and wonderful to see the Red Wings bring the Cup to our town," the 10-year-old said.
For his mother, Corinne Gordon, the parade was bridge-building.
"There's been so much doom and gloom and separation between the city and suburbs because of what the mayor has done," said Gordon, 37. "This brings people together."
Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and his former top aide, Christine Beatty, face criminal charges, including perjury, stemming from testimony during a whistle-blowers' trial in which the pair denied having a romantic relationship. Kilpatrick and Beatty also are accused of lying under oath about their roles in the firing of a top police official.
The Wings' six-game series win over the Penguins gave area residents the chance to forget, at least for a short time, the economic doldrums and the mayoral saga that have dominated the news for months.
And the good times should keep rolling for the storied franchise.
The team set a record with 30 wins in the first half of the season, matching Montreal's record with 100 points for the eighth straight year, and extended the longest active streak in sports with its 17th straight postseason appearance.
Detroit's key players are under contract for at least next season, leaving only a handful of decisions to make in the offseason.