I haven’t had nearly enough time to put together a decent quote collection this week (sorry), so I’m offering up selections from David Amber’s entertaining (as always) interview with Chris Chelios this week:
Question from David Amber: You were born in Chicago, but moved to Australia and Southern California. How did you stay active in hockey?
Answer from Chris Chelios: I moved out of Chicago when I was 15. I was only in Australia for about seven months when my dad had this crazy idea to go into business there, but that fell through. As far as hockey goes, as soon I turned 16, I was just playing in beer-and-pizza leagues in California. One day, this kid from Canada gave me a number to call in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and the rest is history.
Q: That’s a pretty crazy road to the NHL.
A: Yeah, it is. I was playing hockey and I loved it, but I had no idea what was going on. Being in California, I had no idea what route I had to take, it was just a fluke situation. I met a kid on the beach, and before you knew it, I was playing junior hockey in Canada.
Q: You must have dominated those pizza leagues in California.
A: I was only 16 years old and I was playing against 35-, 40-year-old men. I wasn’t so big, so it was good for me. It was really competitive.
Q: And now you’re a 40-year-old man, playing against 20-year-olds.
Q: You spent seven seasons in Montreal, nine in Chicago, and this is your eighth season in Detroit. If you had to choose a team to represent when you are elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which team would it be?
A: I don’t think you have to choose a team or a jersey. But if I could make a jersey out of all three of those teams and the Team USA jersey, that would be great. To be honest, because I was born in Chicago and I grew up in Chicago, that’s where I would lean towards. Even when the fans in Chicago turned on me when I went to Detroit, it still doesn’t matter. I will always be a Chicagoan. I call Detroit home now, we love it here, but Chicago is my first home.
Q: It was 16 seasons between your Stanley Cup championships. How different did the second Cup feel after all those years?
A: The first one was how it should have been. I was young, it was fun. I partied just like a 22-year-old is supposed to. The second one, 16 years later, was more relaxed. I shared it with my two sons and my daughter. I had them on the ice. It couldn’t have worked out any better. There’s not too many guys in the league who have kids my age who can experience what they did and remember it the rest of their lives. So, it worked out well getting to have the best of both worlds when I won the Cup. I really appreciate it.
Q: You trained to compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics as a bobsledder for Greece. What were you thinking there?
A: We were in Salt Lake at the Winter Olympics, and in the athletes cafeteria, I ran into two guys from the Greek bobsled team and they were mentioning that they were looking for funding and they were hoping to get a four-man team together. So, they asked me to try out. Just for fun, I had a few rides, and the next thing you know, we were locked out in the NHL and I had nothing to do, so I gave it a shot. I helped raise some money and gave them some exposure, so it was cool. I didn’t realize how intense it is. I found out quickly there was a lot of hard work and a lot of training that goes into being an Olympic bobsledder, and I wasn’t ready to make that commitment. Before I even had to make a decision, I was back playing in the minors for the Motor City Mechanics, so that effectively ended my bobsled career.
Q: What’s worse: an open-ice hit from a guy like Scott Stevens or crashing in a bobsled?
A: The crash is pretty crazy, you just wait for it to stop. When you crash, you’re going 65 mph down the track on your head for at least 30 seconds. That part of it wasn’t enjoyable. Getting hit on the ice hurts a lot more, but the fright factor of going down the bobsled is huge. You have some death-defying moments when you crash, so it’s definitely a scare.
Q: You’re buddies with John Cusack. What’s your favorite John Cusack movie?
A: Probably “High Fidelity” and “Pushing Tin.” Those are my favorites. I have known John for probably 17 or 18 years; he’s a great guy. He has done a bunch of girly movies over the years, which are totally against what he believes in, but you have to make a living. So, when you’re in his situation, you have to take it. We’re good friends. We spend summers in Malibu together.
Q: You’ve played more than 1,500 NHL games. What stands out as the most bizarre thing you’ve seen in a game?
A: When Jiri Fischer collapsed, it was the most frightening and bizarre incident. It terrified me to watch a kid like that actually have his heart stop and die for over a minute, and then be revived five feet in front of my eyes. That is something you never forget. By far, that was the most traumatizing thing I have had to go through as a pro athlete.