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Wings' Chelios keeps rolling along

Monday, 04.9.2007 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Detroit Red Wings
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Wings\' Chelios keeps rolling along
By Evan Grossman, Staff Writer

Chris Chelios isn't gunning for Gordie Howe.

Chelios, 45, will be the oldest defenseman to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring, but the Detroit Red Wings rearguard has no intentions of sticking around long enough to become the oldest player at any position to compete in the playoffs. That mark belongs to Howe, who was 52-years-old when he last played in the postseason.

"I talked to Gordie Howe about two weeks ago and I promised him I would quit at 51," Chelios said. "He's Mr. Hockey."

If Howe is Mr. Hockey, then Chelios is Mr. Longevity. The most veteran player in the League today, Chelios has been a part of hockey for almost as long as ice has. This is going to be Chelios' record 22nd playoff appearance, moving him past Ray Bourque, who finished his career with 21 tournaments under his belt.

Even more remarkable than Chelios' longevity has been his knack for being a part of good teams. Out of 23 NHL seasons, he's only missed the playoffs once in his career. Once! His lone miss came in his final full season with the Chicago Blackhawks, when they missed the playoffs in 1998.

By that time, Chelios had already won a Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986 and was seen in 14 straight playoff tournaments.

Chelios was traded to the Red Wings the following season and he's been in the playoffs every year since. Setting a North American professional sports record, Detroit has been to the playoffs 16-straight years and the franchise has accumulated over 100 points in seven-consecutive seasons. Chelios is a big reason why the Red Wings have been able to continue those impressive trends.

At a time when the NHL is being taken over by a widespread youth movement and many young players have played beyond their years, "Old Man" Chelios hasn't lost a step and is as steady on the blue line as he's ever been. A big reason for that is he's blessed with the right genetics. But an equally important aspect of his staying power is how much Chelios takes care of himself between games and away from the rink.

"I think it's just a little bit of everything," he says. "There's been a lot of guys over the past 10, 12 years that trained just as hard. I think I've been very fortunate that I met my trainer 14 years ago, T.R. Goodman, who basically was the first to do my type of training, I guess you want to call it circuit training. I changed my training. I've had to train because I can't do the impact training that I used to. I've been very fortunate to bounce back from the injuries that I've had.

"But like I said, when you last 23 years, that's just a little bit of everything and I think I look at other guys, the tragedies that they have been through and the injuries they have sustained, I've been very fortunate and I've remained healthy," Chelios said. "And I've just been able to fit in with the trainer in the last couple of years and not been able to uproot and move my family, which probably would been about the end of my career a few years ago if I had not been able to play with Detroit. The team has had a lot of success, and I think that's what's kept me around the longest for the most part I think."

Chelios is sixth on the all-time list with 228 playoff games played. He won Stanley Cups in 1986 and 2002 and he would very much like to win another one before he hangs up the skates forever. It was the Cup he won in 2002 that remains the highlight of his long career.

"If you look back, probably the biggest highlight has to be on the ice when we won the 2002 Cup with my two boys who were 15 and 14, or 14 and 13 at the time, to share that with two sons who love hockey as much as I do," Chelios said. "That was definitely the highlight of my career. You know, not making it any more important than the Cup that I won in Montreal, but I celebrated that alone, and to do it with my two boys and my family, it was something special. If you look at the guys and going through what I've gone through, it's a special thing to do as a parent."

And the man old enough to be the father of many NHL players would like to win one more before it's over. Before he gets as old as Gordie Howe.




1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69


H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80