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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #90: Chris Drury

It's summer of 1989. George Bush the Elder has just assumed the Presidency, The Cosby Show is a ratings juggernaut, and it will be 13 years before a New England professional team wins another championship. It's thirty-one years ago: I'm newly fourteen, about to start high school in Exeter, and still playing organized baseball as a light-hitting, all-effort catcher for the Stratham Astros.

That August, the eyes of the region were drawn to Williamsport, PA. The Little League World Series was under way, and a New England entrant was making some serious noise. It had been six years since an American team had won in an event increasingly dominated by teams from Taiwan and South Korea at a time when American anxiety about the emerging prowess of Asian economies was at its height. To be repeatedly beaten on home soil at our own game was an unsettling trend.

It had been even longer since a New England team had taken home the hardware, going back to 1965 when another Connecticut team won it all. In 1989, the team from Trumbull had the look of a winner, and it was personified by charismatic 13-year old pitcher/slugger Chris Drury. The baby-faced assassin hurled a complete game five-hitter and drove in two runs in the title game against Taiwan. He was my generation's first sports hero, and baseball wasn't even his best sport.

That would have been hockey. He won a national pee-wee hockey championship before his heroics in Williamsport, and became an all-state player for Fairfield Prep. From there he went to Boston University in 1994, where he'd win a national championship as a freshman, land a Hobey Baker award as the nation's top collegiate hockey player, win four straight Beanpot Tournaments, and generally frustrate UNH fans like me who had to watch those Terrier teams come into Durham and beat up our Wildcats (with one historic exception...)

Drury took his show to the NHL, drafted as a Quebec Nordique. The franchise moved to Denver and became the Avalanche before Drury graduated from BU. When he joined the Avalanche he promptly was named Rookie of the Year, the first player ever to win a Hobey Baker and a Calder Trophy. He was on the Ray Bourque 2001 Avalanche that won the Stanley Cup, and in 2002 he was a member of the US Olympic hockey team that won a silver medal, the team's best finish since Lake Placid in 1980. (They'd win another silver in 2010.)

He'd go on to play with Calgary, Buffalo, and the NY Rangers, where he'd become captain. Drury retired in 2011, with 255 goals and 360 assists in 892 regular season games. In 2015 he became an assistant general manager with the Rangers, a job he still holds. He still lives in Connecticut, in Greenwich, with his wife and three children. Presumably, there's a room there for his trophies: Little League World Series, Hobey Baker, NCAA title, Calder, Stanley Cup, and a few medals for good measure.

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