Tuesday, 31 August 2010

End Of An Era... Or An Age?

The announcement was made today, and I am still in shock over it. Long-time NHL defenceman Chris Chelios - he of 48 years young - has decided to hang up his skates for retirement. While most hockey players call it a career between the ages of 38 and 42, Chelios defied the odds and continued to play at a high level well past 45. However, it appears that Gordie Howe's record will continue to stand as the eldest statesman in the NHLPA has decided to call it quits before his first pension cheque arrives.

There were a ton of accomplishments in the rearguard's career of which he should be proud:

  • 1651 games by a defenceman - the most by a blueliner in NHL history.
  • Three-time Norris Trophy winner.
  • Three-time Stanley Cup winner.
  • 27 years as a member of an NHL team.
  • Four Olympic appearances.
However, the bigger accomplishments may come in helping Detroit's young players develop. Chelios accepted a role with the Red Wings as Advisor to Hockey Operations. It is reported that he will spend much of his time working with the players on Detroit's AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.

"The luxury I have now is being able to stay in Detroit with my family and working for the Red Wings," Chelios said to Brian Compton of NHL.com. "I watched what [Steve Yzerman] did, and I'm trying to kind of follow in his footsteps what he did. His first year was kind of a learning experience for him. He didn't know what he wanted to do. He tried to find his niche with the organization. I'm just going to take it day by day here and enjoy what I'm doing. I'm learning from the best."

The "best" that he is referring to is none other than Red Wings' GM Ken Holland. Holland seemed particularly thrilled with Chelios' hiring, and sees him working in a number of capacities within the organization.

"It's a little bit of trying to figure out time commitment, figuring out what 'Cheli' wants to do and where he fits in," Holland said. "Player development is one area that he's going to be very important to us, going to Grand Rapids and working with our young defencemen. It's not one defined job. His role is probably going to evolve over the course of the year. I think Chris is going to bring us a lot of different dimensions to our front office."

Is there a chance that the veteran defenceman could suit up for the Griffins or the Red Wings this year?

"I'm not going to leave the door open," Chelios said. "I'm 100-percent sure that this is it. I know that I'll never play in the NHL again. It's not a hard decision. I couldn't have played any longer than I did. I accomplished what I wanted to. Basically, there's nothing left."

Sounds like he's ready to make the next step.

Congratulations to Chris Chelios on his amazing career and longevity in one of the most violent and brutal games on the planet! There is no doubt that he belongs in the Hall of Fame, and should be a shoo-in once his time comes in three years!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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