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Thrashers sign veteran NHL defenceman Chris Chelios, assign him to AHL club

(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Sancya, File)

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(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Paul Sancya, File)

ATLANTA - The Atlanta Thrashers signed veteran defenceman Chris Chelios on Tuesday.

But Chelios, 48, will have to wait to return to the NHL as the Thrashers assigned him to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.

Chelios signed with Chicago last season and has appeared in 44 games with the club so far this year.

Chelios, a 25-year NHL veteran, leads all American-born players with 1,644 career games and has accumulated 948 points (185 goals, 763 assists) with the Montreal Canadiens (1983-'90), Chicago Blackhawks (1990-'99) and Detroit Red Wings (1999-2009).

The Chicago native has won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman three times (1989, 1993, 1996) and has taken part in 11 career NHL all-star games. He has also played for three Stanley Cup-winning teams (Montreal, 1986; Detroit, 2002 and 2008).

Chelios is also a three-time Olympian.

The Wolves are in Toronto on Wednesday to face the Marlies at Ricoh Coliseum.

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