Chris Chelios at U.S. men\'s hockey team practice at the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics Games in Turin, Italy, in this Feb. 14, 2006, file photo. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Eric Risberg
Believe it or not, Chris Chelios hasn't closed the door on possibly playing in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics at the age of 48.
"If need be, I'm going to be honest, I would love to play in those Olympics," Chelios said Thursday on a USA Hockey conference call. "Because I think it's going to be one of the best ever. To have the greatest players in the world and the fact that it's going to be in North America. ...
"And if it's not as a player, I would hope it would be in some capacity, maybe as a coach or in management. But I would really love to be involved because of the 20-odd years I've been involved with USA Hockey."
It would be a fifth Olympics for Chelios, who also skated in the 1984, 1998, 2002 and 2006 Games. But he's also realistic about his chances.
"In the role I'm playing now, it's going to be tough," said the Detroit Red Wings blue-liner, who turned 46 last month. "I kind of compare myself to a relief pitcher in baseball where I play a role in penalty kill and defensive situations. Realistically, with the way my minutes are down ... but I thought the same thing prior to the last Olympics (2006) and because of injuries on teammates on Detroit I was given the opportunity to play and I was fortunate enough to be named to the team.
"It's a ways away still, a lot can happen. Physically I feel great. I don't want to hold any young kid from getting a spot on the team but by the same token I'm not ready to give it up either."
Even if he's not playing for the U.S. Olympic team or has any role whatsoever with the team, Chelios said he wants to be in Vancouver.
"I would go to those Olympics and take my sons with me because I think it's going to be one of the best Olympics," said Chelios. "Salt Lake (2002), as far as I'm concerned, was the greatest event and hockey game (Canada beat the U.S. in the gold medal game) that I've played in - in international hockey. It was everything that it was built up to be in Salt Lake.
"I'm hoping for the same thing in Vancouver and we get the same result with Canada and the U.S. facing off in the gold medal game."
With a new generation of American NHL stars on the horizon and some key veterans returning, Chelios likes his country's chances in Vancouver.
"Obviously because Canada is on home ice, they're going to be the team to beat and they'll be the toughest team to beat," said Chelios. "But otherwise, I think we match up against anybody else in that tournament, we're just as good. It just remains to be seen who the hot team is at the right time."
When it comes to best-on-best hockey, Chelios has been there for the Americans, skating in the 1984, '87 and '91 Canada Cups as well as the 1996 and 2004 World Cup of Hockey. He also played in the 1982 world junior championships.
Chelios captured Olympic silver in 2002 and led the U.S. to the legendary 1996 World Cup win over Canada.
"Being around this long, I've had the opportunity to watch USA Hockey develop and grow and finally be able to compete at the same level as all the other countries, including against Canada and proving that in the '96 World Cup," said Chelios. "I still go back to the 1980 Olympics, which basically paved the way for players like myself, (Pat) LaFontaine, (Al) Iafrate, Dave Jensen, really made the hockey world aware of USA Hockey and its growth and development, and it happened at a rapid pace once the '80 team accomplished what it did."