DETROIT – Red Wings’ fans welcomed one of their legends back to Joe Louis Arena Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, as former defenseman Chris Chelios stood at center ice once again in celebration of Chris Chelios Night.
The night recognized Chelios for his recent induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, an honor that was considered an obvious decision after the defenseman earned three Stanley Cups, three Norris Trophies and an Olympic silver medal in his decorated 26-year career. The celebration at Joe Louis included a pre-game replay of Chelios’ induction speech, a poster giveaway, a concourse display of the defenseman’s relevant trophies and Chelios’ participation in the ceremonial puck drop with his family.
He wouldn’t have it any other way. As much as Chelios was honored by his induction, he was even more excited to have his family enjoy and take part in the Hall of Fame weekend, becoming the first inductee to welcome his family on stage.
“The tradition in basketball was that they had mentors or coaches on stage,” Chelios said, “so I couldn’t think of anybody better to have up there than my family.”
The defenseman made sure his guests enjoyed the entire weekend, including a Sunday night induction party in Toronto.
“It was amazing. Wayne Gretzky actually said he wasn’t going to make it, but he walked in 45 minutes later and surprised me,” Chelios said. “My friends and family had the time of their life and the whole idea was to give them a night they’d never forget and a weekend they’d never forget.”
It was a weekend they aren’t likely to forget anytime soon, just as Chelios and his legacy will never be forgotten. After giving Detroit eight strong years and bringing home two Stanley Cups, the standing ovation as Chelios lifted his right hand in the air spoke for itself: the defenseman will have his place in NHL history and the hearts of Hockeytown forever.
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