Born in Guelph, Ontario, Kirk Maltby was a fine Junior B player with the Cambridge Hawks before joining the OHL's Owen Sound Platers. After scoring 50 goals and playing a hard-nosed style, the young forward was selected 65th overall by the Edmonton Oilers at the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.
A gritty and solid defensive player, Maltby was a steady checker and penalty killer on the improving Oilers for three seasons. Just prior to the March deadline in 1996, he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Dan McGillis. He was used sparingly as the Colorado Avalanche eliminated the club in the Western Conference finals.
In 1996-97, Maltby established himself as a key grinder and defensive player picked by then head coach Scotty Bowman to shadow the top left-wingers on the opposition. During the 1997 playoffs, Maltby contributed five goals to the Red Wings' first Stanley Cup title win since 1955. The next year, the hard working forward scored a personal best 14 goals and helped Detroit repeat as Cup champions. Over the course of the next three years, Maltby continued his stellar defensive work as the club continued to win regularly but fell short in the post-season.
After three years of frustration in the post-season, Maltby and the Wings captured their third Stanley Cup in six years in 2002. Although the Wings season came to an abrupt end in 2002-03, with a quick exit in the first round of the playoffs, Maltby had established a career high in points with 37 on the strength of 14 goals and 23 assists during the regular season.
In 2003-04, Maltby nearly equaled those totals and along with linemates Kris Draper and Darren McCarty continued to be recognized as the NHL's to defensive line. After the NHL lock out, Maltby returned to the Red Wings and was the only player over two seasons to compete in all 164 games. In 2007-08 he played his 900th NHL contest and helped his club to yet another Presidents' Trophy. In the following playoffs, a hamstring injury caused him to miss out on the first two rounds. However, Maltby returned to the lineup in round three and went on to earn his fourth Stanley Cup with the Red Wings.
On the international stage, Maltby is a two-time member of Canada's World Championship team (2003 and 2005) and although he saw no game action, was a member of Canada's 2004 World Cup team.