The Malik Report
by George Malik on 11/04/13 at 11:04 AM ET
Former Red Wings Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame a week from today. Yahoo Sports' Nicholas J. Cotsonika (via RedWingsFeed) penned a pair of must-read stories about Chelios, who very literally went on a road trip with Chelios as the Wings exec headed to Grand Rapids to help mentor the Griffins' defensemen:
Last week he let Yahoo Sports come along for the ride as he went to see the Wings’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins. Some of the interview told the incredible story of his playing career. Some of it is here in edited Q&A form. We could go on forever, but we won’t. He is going to write a book.
Could you still play?
“Could I play eight or 10 minutes a night on a good team like the Wings? Maybe. But no. I always said it was going to be a physical thing why I couldn’t play, and towards the end of my career I couldn’t train because of my left knee. That’s what really limited me. I couldn’t do the heavy workload in the gym to get to the level I always was at. So basically, to answer your question, no, I couldn’t have kept playing.
“I don’t skate a whole lot. I’m on the ice pushing pucks and blowing whistles. When I do skate hard in practice, I feel it for the next day or two, but it goes away. For the Winter Classic [alumni event], I was thinking of skating, getting in shape, working real hard with [former Wings center] Kris Draper and his crew. But for me, it’s better just to do things that don’t hurt and get my conditioning. I’m not going to skate, because I think if I did, it would be killing me by the time the game rolls around.
“I think Drapes is still working out harder than anybody that I’ve ever seen after they’re done in hockey. He trains hard. He didn’t play until he was 48, either. If he’s doing that when he’s 48, I’ll be surprised.”
Cotsonika continues in what really is a must-read article, and Chelios clarifies his coaching aspirations along the way. The embedded link heads to another must-read story in which Cotsonika tells of Chelios's unlikely journey from surfing in San Diego to playing an what was then an unnatural position for a 16-year-old Chelios--defense--with the Moose Jaw Canucks:
[T]he Canucks were struggling, and they really needed help on defense, and after a few days [Canucks coach Larry] Billows changed his mind. Maybe he had nothing to lose, either. He called Chelios and offered him a plane ticket. Parker remembers sitting on the bench during a game, looking across the ice and suddenly spotting Chelios through the glass on the other side, standing there, watching.
Chelios practiced with the team for about a week. The Canucks lost a couple of games.
“OK,” Billows said. “You’re in next game.”
Chelios scored on his first shift.
Defense suited Chelios, and away from work and school, in a hardcore hockey environment, he could put all of his effort into his body and his game. He grew in stature and skill, and his talent and tenacity came out. He played for the Canucks for two seasons, partnering with Parker for much of that time. He put up 12 goals, 43 points and 118 penalty minutes in 53 games the first season. He put up 23 goals, 87 points and 175 penalty minutes in 54 games the second season.
Cotsonika's second story's a must-read, too, and it also addresses Chelios's future, and Chelios's lack of concern about how things will play out.
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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.