The Malik Report
by George Malik on 12/12/11 at 04:04 PM ET
Chris Chelios spent just over a third of his NHL career with the Detroit Red Wings, but Wings GM Ken Holland tells DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose that the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductee’s contributions to the Wings during his decade-long tenure and two Stanley Cups with the organization exceeded their expectations for the man they acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks in 1999 by several orders of magnitude:
“We knew we had him for that playoff run and three additional years,” Holland said. “Realistically, we thought that would be the time-frame for his career. I thought if we had him for four playoffs that would take him to 40-years of age, and that would be more than enough. But we never thought he would be here for 10 years.”
In all, Chelios played 27 NHL seasons, won the Norris Trophy three times and finished second twice, including 2002 when he lead the league with a plus-40 rating and was runner-up to Lidstrom.
“Cheli is a guy that when he’s on your team you and your fans love him, and when he’s on the other team you don’t like him,” Holland said. “And obviously once we got him on our team we loved him. He’s a warrior, he’s a competitor, he’s a team player, he’s a physical fitness nut and he’s a work horse, and he’s mentally strong, really strong. And when he got here, he was an old pro. He knew how to conserve energy. He was running around and didn’t try to go end-to-end. He conserved energy, and a real good player.”
Besides the NHL, Chelios was a staple at the international level, too, representing the United States 10 times, including four Winter Olympic Games. He was captain of three of those squads – 1998, 2002 and 2006. He also helped the U.S. defeat Canada in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
These days, Chelios, who is an advisor to the Wings’ hockey operations staff, gets his hockey fix in Grand Rapids, where he regularly works with Wings’ prospects. He also represented Team USA as an assistant coach at the Deutschland Cup last month. In January, Chelios will turn 50-years-old, yet rumors persisted last week at Joe Louis Arena that he travels with an equipment bag in his car and from time to time stops by community rinks to play in pick-up games.
“He has incredible passion, he loves hockey,” Holland said. “You don’t play in the National Hockey League until you’re 48-years of age unless you have some qualities in you that most people don’t have. The league is too good, the league is too fast, the league’s too hard, too young, and too competitive. He’s got an incredible passion for the game, and against his peers, it’s another level of passion, and that’s why any stories that I might hear about Chris Chelios wouldn’t surprise me.”
I left off the parts about the failed Uwe Krupp experiment, but you can read about that in the rest of Roose’s column.
Chelios spoke to the press at length while attending yesterday night’s Blackhawks-Sharks game as the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame inductions (the other inductees are Chelios’s Blackhawks and Team USA defensive partner, Gary Suter, long-time Jets and Blues forward Keith Tkachuk and broadcaster Mike Emrick, who spends his off-seasons in the Port Huron suburb of Marysville), and Chelios indicated that he’d eventually like to go into coaching when his children’s collegiate careers (Chelios told NHL.com’s Brian Hedger that Dean and Jake play hockey at Michigan State University and Cayley plays Lacrosse at Northwestern University), and Holland made sure to indicate to Hedger that the Wings have no desire to allow Chelios to leave the Wings’ sphere of influence.
In other words, unofficially speaking, it sounds like Chelios will ease into coaching as an assistant with the Grand Rapids Griffins a few years from now, and should he aspire to coach at a higher level, the Wings will try to accommodate him.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.