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Future Hall Of Famer Chris Chelios Retires

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:

Martin Brodeur
Sidney Crosby
Sergei Fedorov
Peter Forsberg
Dominik Hasek
Jarome Iginla
Jaromir Jagr
Nicklas Lidstrom
Mike Modano
Alexander Ovechkin
Chris Pronger
Mark Recchi
Teemu Selanne
Joe Thornton

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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Guilherme's avatar

Allow me to be the mandatory whiner for this post: where’s Datsyuk?

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/08/10 at 03:27 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Guilherme (or anyone else)

Go ahead and make your argument that Pavel Datsyuk belongs in the Hall of Fame based on his present achievements.  I think he falls short.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/08/10 at 04:08 PM ET


I have to ask, if Crosby and Ovechkin retired today would they be HOF bound? 

And as dominating as Federov was in his days with the wings, he really fell quickly, I wouldn’t consider him a lock for the HOF.  Especially since his departure from the NHL.  Jagr is in the same boat, and how badly will these two be penalized for leaving the NHL…

I think Recchi is also questionable,  Iginla, while an amazing player, I believe is a Stanley Cup or Two short of being a lock for the HOF.

Posted by wingsnut25 on 08/08/10 at 04:43 PM ET

edillac's avatar

so if a player leaves the NHL,he gets penalized?
WFT is that,its not the NHL HOF.
Too many N.Americans on the commitee?

oh,and if Dats stays himself for another 4 or 5 seasons,he will be a certain HHOF-er,remember he is Russian,needs to be 150%

Posted by edillac from isolation on 08/08/10 at 05:00 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Jagr is in no way in the same boat as Fedorov. He won two Cups an led the league in scoring 5 times if I recall correctly. He is an absolute lock For the HOF when he calls it quits.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 08/08/10 at 05:44 PM ET

scotts0's avatar

To echo some like thoughts…in a strange way, I don’t feel like Fedorov is a lock for the Hall, and to go further, I kinda feel like he won’t get in at all.  Sure, he was the greatest player in the world for a good 5-6 years, but like someone already said, his dropoff felt like it was overnight.  One day he woke up and lost his talent….and that day may have been the first day he was no longer a Red Wing.  I loved the guy, he is the reason that I like hockey and the Red Wings, but I have my doubts about him being in the Hall.

Posted by scotts0 from New York on 08/08/10 at 06:15 PM ET

edillac's avatar

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 08/08/10 at 03:44 PM ET

I wouldnt say that Jagr is better hockey player than Fedorov,just different skill set,same value

Posted by edillac from isolation on 08/08/10 at 06:17 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Jagr may or y not be a better Ayer, but there is no question that he had the more dominant and successful NHL career.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 08/08/10 at 06:32 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Go ahead and make your argument that Pavel Datsyuk belongs in the Hall of Fame based on his present achievements.

Two Cups, three (straight) Selkes, four (straight) Byngs (a minor award, of course, but it’s four!), three All-Star games, the intangible of “most complete player in the league). And of course, he didn’t win it on his only Hart nomination, but that was a rough year.

And, playing for one the most storied franchises in the league, he’s already 9th in points for the Wings, with better PPG than 5 of the guys ahead of him, and he is 7th best in assists for the team, too.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/08/10 at 06:48 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

The argument against Datsyuk is that he only has 592 career points.  That is a ridiculously low total for a forward in the modern era who has a Hall of Fame career.  He makes up for it somewhat by his individual awards, although I would argue that some of his awards (mostly the recent Lady Byng) was won on reputation and not by being the best candidate.  Datsyuk has never been the best player in the NHL - which would probably be necessary for such a low scoring career.  You might argue that 2008/09 was an MVP season - but most disagree as is shown by his third place finish in the balloting and then his drop-off the following year seems to show that he was never the best player in the league.

If you want a couple candidates that I do not support for the Hall who have Hart Trophies and more or roughly the same career point total consider Martin St Louis and Henrik Sedin.  Do you consider them Hall of Famers as wellÉ

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/08/10 at 06:55 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

That is a ridiculously low total for a forward in the modern era who has a Hall of Fame career.  He makes up for it somewhat by his individual awards, although I would argue that some of his awards (mostly the recent Lady Byng) was won on reputation and not by being the best candidate.

Again, you’d have to consider he plays for one of (if not the) best owned/managed franchises in the world, so it wasn’t until a relative advanced age Datsyuk got the ice time needed to shine. And even like that, he is already one of the franchise leaders at age 32.

And one thing about reputation awards: I think they’re confrontable on a short-term basis, but not long term. If Datsyuk gathered enough reputation to be voted the best defensive forward for so many years, that’s a hell of a hell reputation. One can’t just bash a “reputation” award while forgetting how that reputation was built.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/08/10 at 10:02 PM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Another thing: The argument against Datsyuk is that he only has 592 career points.

I’m sorry, but in this era I don’t think that’s a low ammount of points. The only aspect of Datsyuk’s game I’d consider not-HOF worthy is his playoff offensive performance.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 08/08/10 at 10:05 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Datsyuk has more NHL points than both Crosby and Ovechkin at this point in their careers.  I understand that both of those players have those slightly smaller totals (Crosby 506, Ovechkin 529) in significantly fewer games, but if the overall total for Datsyuk is the biggest issue then I have to say that the overall total for both of those other players should also be considered an issue. 

I think Ovechkin’s case right now is stronger than Crosby’s on the Hart trophy count of 2 to 1, but like you’ve alluded to here, one Hart trophy could be aberrant, since you don’t think Henrik Sedin and his one Hart trophy should make it, I can argue that Crosby falls into the same category.  While comparisons between Crosby and Sedin aren’t the core of the issue, I think you’ve given more credit to two players based more on potential than actual accomplishments.

Datsyuk’s Selkes as well as the two cups he played a role in (one major) should at least equal Ovechkin’s individual records when considering whether a player belongs in the HHoF right this instant.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/08/10 at 10:16 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

Ovechkin and Crosby have been considered better players than Datsyuk for their entire careers.  Crosby has the weaker case for the Hall of Fame of the two (Ovechkin and himself) as he has only won the Hart Trophy once and only been on the First Team All Star that one time.  However, he are Ovechkin have been the two players almost universally debated as to which is the best in hockey for the past several years - maybe Datsyuk or sedin had their name enter the debate for a fleeting period but they have been considered third place at best by most hockey observers even in their highest point.

In Crosby`s case, do not forget the value of the Olympic winning goal in Vancouver.  It immediately puts him in with Paul Henderson in the debate for the biggest goal in Canadian hockey history.  Many people will argue (and I disagree) that Henderson belongs in the Hall of Fame on the strength of that goal in 1972 (or his three game winners in 1972 if they are a bit more sophisticated).  Henderson was never remotely consdered in the argument for best player in the game at any time.  Crosby has been for a long time and has a Hart Trophy to show for it.

As for Datsyuk, I am not arguing he cannot be a Hall of Famer.  Maybe he can.  He will likely have a good case when he is done, but he isn`t there yet.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/08/10 at 10:58 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

If you disagree that Henderson should gain any further consideration for his one goal in 1972 or even for his three game-winners, then I feel absolutely comfortable forgetting about Crosby’s Olympic Gold Medal-winning goal from this year if I’m considering Crosby’s HoF case.

I agree that both Crosby and Ovechkin (as well as Datsyuk) are on HoF-track careers, I just disagree that if either Crosby or Ovechkin suffered career-ending injuries tomorrow that they would be automatic hall inductees.  They’re both fantastic players, but right now I would consider both of their careers tragically-ended flashes-in-the-pan if they were to be cut short after only 5 seasons.  They should both eventually be all-time greats, but they aren’t right now.

I guess I’m arguing more against their inclusion than FOR Datsyuk’s, but I can sleep comfortably with that.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/08/10 at 11:13 PM ET

PuckStopsHere's avatar

As far as Henderson and his historic goal(s), they do make part of a Hall of Fame case.  Unfortunately for him, there isn`t much else to his case and he falls short.

As for the question of Crosby and Ovechkin making the hall even if they suddenly stopped being effective tomorrow, yes I think they would.  They already have as long a prime as Cam Neely or Jacques Lemaire or Michel Goulet or Bill Barber or countless others who are in the hall and relatively modern but with a higher peak value.  If they suddenly failed now, they might be looked at like Eric Lindros.  And Lindros will likely be inducted in the next few years himself.

Posted by PuckStopsHere on 08/08/10 at 11:23 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Lindros will likely be inducted in the next few years himself.

Another choice with which I disagree.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 08/08/10 at 11:30 PM ET


Based on historical averages, there are approximately 40-45 future Hockey Hall of Famers active during each season. Thus, with TPSH’s list of 14 predicted HHOF players, that means there will be another 26-31 players active in the NHL next season who will someday be inducted.

Ergo, it’s reasonable to project Pavel Datsyuk as being somewhere in that mix.

Posted by Matthew McCallum on 08/09/10 at 06:06 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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