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THN.com Blog: Chelios, Lemieux go back to the future

Chris Chelios hasn't played for the Wings yet this season, but he's conditioning for a return with Grand Rapids of the AHL. (Getty Images)

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Chris Chelios hasn't played for the Wings yet this season, but he's conditioning for a return with Grand Rapids of the AHL. (Getty Images)

The American Hockey League, a development league?

Not this weekend.

Not with Chris Chelios, who turns 47 in January, playing a conditioning stint in Grand Rapids and 43-year-old Claude Lemieux trying to resurrect his career in Worcester.

Chelios broke a bone in his leg late in training camp and has been rehabbing the injury ever since, while Lemieux decided to attempt a comeback after last playing in the NHL in 2003.

With 45 seasons of NHL experience between them – and more than 3,200 games, including the playoffs – Chelios and Lemieux aren’t exactly your typical AHLers. Fact is, Lemieux last played in the AHL 22 years ago, in 1985-86, while Chelios’ only experience in the minors was a 23-game stint with the United League’s Motor City Mechanics during the lockout in 2004-05.

Chelios will likely play a couple of home games for the Griffins this weekend and then be recalled to the Red Wings. Lemieux, meanwhile, is trying to prove to San Jose that he’s still capable of playing in the NHL after five years out of the game. The four-time Stanley Cup champion has one goal and two points in four AHL games.

But just two lousy penalty minutes, so he’s not the Claude Lemieux of old just yet.

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The San Jose Sharks don’t appear to need Lemieux’s services on home ice. The Sharks are 14-0-1 at HP Pavilion this season, while Washington is 10-1-1 and Boston 9-1-1 at home…

The Red Wings, meanwhile, don’t look like they need Chelios for road games. Detroit is 10-2-2 away from The Joe. And right behind them, once again, are those surprising Bruins, 8-3-3 on the road…

The Red Wings’ league-leading proficiency on the power play continues (30.2 per cent), but Minnesota’s overall performance on special teams is just as impressive. The Wild are second overall in the NHL on the power play (26.6 percent) – and second overall killing penalties (89.1). The Rangers lead the NHL with a 90.1-percent kill rate…

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Philadelphia’s penalty killers might be the most impressive of all, as the Flyers have scored an astounding 10 shorthanded goals (the Islanders and Sharks are tied for second place with six shorties). At the defensive end, the Flyers haven’t surrendered a shorthanded tally against all season…

Second-year winger Devin Setoguchi is playing on the top line with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in San Jose – and he’s definitely keeping up, with 13 goals and 30 points in 26 games, good for eighth in overall league scoring. All three linemates are in the top 10: Thornton is sixth with 32 points and Marleau tied for ninth with 29…

The NHL’s goal-scoring leaders are…Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek and Philadelphia’s Jeff Carter, with 18 apiece…

Thirteen of Teemu Selanne’s 14 goals have come on the power play…

With 11 goals in 25 games, Predators defenseman Shea Weber – who leads all NHL blueliners with 24 points – is on pace for 36 goals. Only three defensemen have scored more than 36 goals in a season: Paul Coffey, three times (including a league-record 48 goals in 1985-86); Bobby Orr, three times (including 46 in ’74-75); and Doug Wilson, with 39 for Chicago in ’81-82.

Sam McCaig is The Hockey News' senior copy editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears every weekend and his column, From The Point, appears regularly.

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

 

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