Chris Chelios and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Detroit Red Wings celebrate with the Stanley Cup. (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dominik Hasek has decided to call it a career, but what about his Red Wings teammate Chris Chelios?
No way. Not a chance.
In the days after the Wings won their fourth Stanley Cup in 11 years (and 11th all-time), Chelios was announcing he has “every intention of coming back.”
And Detroit GM Ken Holland was all ears, saying he’d like Chelios back for another year – in a “reduced role,” but another year nonetheless.
Wow. This guy’s 46, he’s been in the NHL since 1984 and has played more NHL playoff games than anyone else, ever.
Did you know he’s only missed the playoffs once? It was back in 1997-98, when his Chicago Blackhawks failed to make the grade.
(Fortunately, he played 81 regular season games and was at the Olympics that year, so it wasn’t a total waste.)
Yet, he wants more.
Chelios is like Halley’s Comet, Old Faithful and The Clapper all rolled up into one: he’s dependable, on time and he responds well to applause.
He’s also not young, for an NHL hockey player.
I’m not saying Chelios is old, but…
…he played with Guy Lafleur, Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey and Steve Shutt in his first NHL season in 1983-84 with Montreal. (Lafleur, by the way, was inducted into the Hall of Fame 20 years ago, in 1988.)
…he has played 1,616 regular season games (sixth all-time), plus another 260 in the playoffs. Plus well over 100 pre-season games. Plus three Olympic Games with Team USA in 1984, 1998 and 2002. Plus a handful of Canada/World Cups. Plus 11 NHL All-Star Games.
Oh yeah, he played a few games in Switzerland during the 1994-95 work stoppage and a bunch for the UHL’s Motor City Mechanics during the 2004-05 lockout. And a season with the U.S. national team, in preparation for his first Olympics.
There were also two years of college hockey with Wisconsin and two seasons of Jr. A with Moose Jaw (Sask.); that first junior season started in 1979. Add it all up, and Chelios has been playing full seasons of high-level hockey for the past 29 years.
…Wayne Gretzky won his first NHL scoring title a couple months before Chelios was drafted.
…when Chelios was drafted, the NHL had teams in Colorado and Minnesota. But not the Avalanche and the Wild; it was the Rockies and the North Stars.
…he was born in 1962. Early in ’62, too – January 25th. That’s practically 1961. Which is practically the 1950s. Basically, he’s a baby boomer.
But Chelios is not old. Just well-aged.
Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Tuesdays and his column, From The Point, every second Friday.
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