by PuckStopsHere on 08/08/10 at 03:23 PM ET
With the announcement that Chris Chelios has accepted a job in the Detroit Red Wings front office, comes his retirement announcement. Chelios is a future Hall of Fame player and here is his career retrospective.
Chris Chelios was born on January 25th, 1962 in Chicago, Illinois. His desire to be a professional hockey player was strong. As a teenager, he went to Canada to play for the Moose Jaw Canucks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. He spent two years in Saskatchewan before being drafted in the second round, 40th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1981. Chelios scored 87 points in his final 54 game season from defence, but was seen as a big fish in a small pond and thus not drafted earlier.
Chelios returned to the United States to play college hockey at the University of Wisconsin. He remained there for two seasons point per game defensive seasons, making the WCHA second team all star and the NCAA Championship All-Tournament team in 1983.
From there he was chosen to participate in the United States national hockey program that was preparing for the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Chelios spent the season playing with the US National Team and scored four goals in six games in the Olympics. The US Team failed to qualify for the medal round and ultimately finished fourth in the tournament.
At the conclusion of the Olympics, Chelios joined the Montreal Canadiens for their final 12 regular season games and a playoff run that saw the Habs make the semi-finals. Ten points in 15 playoff games was enough to earn Chelios a spot on the American team in the 1984 Canada Cup. The US team lost in the semi-finals of the tournament. Chelios then returned to Montreal and had a rookie season that was strong enough to appear in the All Star Game (the first of eleven in his career) and get him onto the NHL All Rookie Team. He did not win the Calder Trophy as best rookie as he shared his rookie season with Mario Lemieux. In his next season in 1986, Chelios and the Habs won the Stanley Cup. Chelios had achieved a high enough level of accomplishment in the NHL to be selected to the 1987 Rendezvous series where the NHL All Stars played a two game series against a Russian All Star Team. This was played in lieu of the annual All Star Game. Chelios was also a member of the 1987 US Team in the Canada Cup. The US Team finished fifth and out of the medal round in the tournament. In 1989, Chelios put up 73 points and went +35. This earned him his first Norris Trophy and First All Star Team berth. Chelios had one more season in Montreal before being traded to Chicago in a blockbuster deal where he and Montreal`s 1991 second round pick (Michael Pomichter) were moved for Denis Savard.
Chelios was now home in Chicago. His first season with the Hawks put him on the NHL`s Second Team All Star and earned him a spot in the 1991 Canada Cup. USA finished second in the tournament, losing to Canada in the finals and Chelios made the tournament All Star Team. 1993 saw Chelios win his second Norris Trophy and earn his second First Team All Star berth. In the 1994 lockout, Chelios played three games in Switzerland for EHC Biel-Bienne before returning to North America. The 1994/95 season was abbreviated to 48 games, but it was long enough for Chelios to make the First Team All Star again. The following year was his third Norris Trophy season and fourth First All Star Team nomination. When the 1996 World Cup of Hockey was played, Chelios was one of the key players in the American victory and he made the tournament All Star Team. His 1996/97 season earned Chelios another Second Team All Star berth. Chelios continued to represent America in international tournaments when NHL players were allowed into the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The US team finished a disappointing sixth. At the 1999 trade deadline, Chelios`s days in Chicago came to an end. A rebuilding Hawks team traded him to Detroit for Anders Eriksson and first round draft picks in 1999 (Chicago picked Steve McCarthy) and 2001 (Chicago picked Adam Munro).
In Detroit, Chelios played the remainder of the 1998/99 season and the 1999/2000 season before a serious knee injury kept him out of the majority of the 2000/01 season. At the time, some thought that was the end of Chelios`s career as he was in his upper 30`s, but he managed to play almost another decade beyond that season. Chelios won the silver medal in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah and made First Team All Star again that season in the NHL. He also won the Stanley Cup that season with the Detroit Red Wings. It was sixteen years after his first Stanley Cup victory. Chelios again represented USA in the 2004 World Cup tournament. The US team lost in the semi-finals. During the lockout season, Chelios played in the UHL for the Motor City Mechanics in the Detroit suburb of Fraser, Michigan. He was joined by NHLers Derian Hatcher, Sean Avery and Bryan Smolinski with the team. After the lockout, Chelios rejoined the Detroit Red Wings and played well enough to make the 2006 US Olympic Team. The tournament was played in Torino, Italy and USA finished a disappointing eighth. 2008 saw Chelios, now more of a bit player, who was sometimes a healthy scratch, win his third Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings. Chelios suffered a leg injury in pre-season the next year and missed most of the season. He played a two game stint with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins and 28 games in the NHL with Detroit to finish the season.
Chelios was not offered an NHL contract in the 2009 off-season, but instead of retiring, he signed with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. He played well enough to get a final NHL trial with the Atlanta Thrashers for seven games late in the season and participated in the Wolves playoff run, which went two rounds.
In the 2010 summer, rumors existed of teams showing interest in signing a now 48 year old Chelios as an extra defenceman, but he has announced retirement instead. Chelios is the oldest player to play in the NHL in almost thirty years (since Gordie Howe). Chelios is the all-time leader in games played among NHL defencemen with 1651 (fourth for any position player). He scored 948 career points. His 2891 career penalty minutes place him 12th all time.
Chris Chelios is the longest lasting defenceman of all time and was a very good player in his prime, as is shown by his three Norris Trophies. He has a long record of representing USA in international play and belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.
This leaves fourteen still active players that I believe are Hall of Famers based upon present achievements. They are:
There have been three retirements from this list this summer in defencemen Rob Blake, Scott Niedermayer and now Chelios. It is possible that this list will continue to deplete this summer if more retirements occur, but we may be done for now.
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