Winning keeps Chelios going and going
Patrick Roy. Larry Robinson. Bob Gainey. Steve Yzerman. Brett Hull. Brian Leetch. Nicklas Lidstrom. Sergei Fedorov. Luc Robitaille. Michel Goulet. Dominik Hasek. Ed Belfour.
Whether it was in Montreal, Chicago, Detroit or through USA Hockey, Chris Chelios has played and won with all of those current or future Hall of Famers. From 1984 until right now, Chelios has run the gamut in the NHL.
And even at age 47, he's still not ready to quit.
"I feel the same way as I did as a rookie or as I did as a kid; I come to the rink and I don't know anything else," said Chelios, a Chicago native. "After this year if someone is willing to give me the opportunity to play and I can contribute and enjoy it, I'll keep playing."
Whenever he does retire, Chelios hopes for one thing -- to be remembered as a good, respectable teammate.
"When I do leave this game, the respect I got from the players and my teammates, to me that's the most important thing," Chelios said. "How they acknowledge me throughout the years as a player and a person."
He seems fairly safe in that department.
Even this season, despite playing just 24 games, Chelios has been nothing short of a magnificent leader for the Red Wings as they embark on yet another Stanley Cup run.
"Cheli is an unbelievable individual and I'm just glad to be here and to learn something from that guy," Detroit forward Marian Hossa told NHL.com. "He would love to play because he's a big competitor, but he takes his role pretty seriously. He understands the concept that there are so many good and young defensemen coming up, but it's unbelievable when you look at his record. It's good for the young guys to learn from him."
Chelios admits the fact that his career has reached the quarter-century mark amazes him. Winning has kept him going.
"It's still fun," he said.
Save for a few dark years in Chicago in the late 1990s, it's always been fun, because Chelios always has been a winner.
He broke in with the Montreal Canadiens during the 1983-84 season, and in his second full season they won the 1986 Stanley Cup. Chelios went to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final with his hometown Chicago Blackhawks, but lost to Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Chelios has won the Stanley Cup twice since coming to Detroit in a trade with Chicago at the late in the 1998-99 season. He also has won the Norris Trophy three times (1989, 1993, 1996).
"Winning has made the biggest decision for me to keep playing, being a part of it and contributing," Chelios said. "I enjoy still being a part of it. Right now it's in a limited role, but anybody who is 47 would die to be in my situation right now."
That he's spent his entire career surrounded by rich hockey history only has added to his entire experience.
Chelios was born in 1962, when there were just six teams in the League, and he has played for three of them.
"It was like having a Harvard degree coming out of Montreal with the history and tradition behind the Montreal Canadiens organization," Chelios said. "And then to go home to Chicago -- same thing, great history. To finish it off here -- or maybe finish it off here -- I think I have been very fortunate to have played for three Original Six teams."
He's done it with a surplus of legendary players spanning generations.
"That's the thing about hockey, the guys you have met along the way," Chelios said. "What an honor it was to play with and against some of these guys. (My teammates are) my family. They have been for the last 25 years."