Chris Chelios headed to Hockey Hall of Fame
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org July 9, 2013 2:55PM
10. Chris Chelios, Hawks (1996): The Hawks led the Avalanche 2-1 in the conference semifinals when Chelios suffered a groin injury. A novocaine shot numbed his entire leg, and he missed Game 4, which the Hawks lost. The Avs went on to win the Cup.
(26 — tied with Gordie Howe)
as NHL’s top
Canadiens, 2002 and 2008 with
Updated: July 9, 2013 10:17PM
Chris Chelios spent more seasons with the hated Detroit Red Wings than he did with his hometown Blackhawks, but the ageless defenseman forever will have a place in Chicago sports lore.
Now he forever will have a place in hockey lore.
Chelios, one of the greatest U.S. players in NHL history, was one of five people elected Tuesday to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Also in Chelios’ induction class are defenseman Scott Niedermayer, forward Brendan Shanahan, female star Geraldine Heaney and coach Fred Shero (in the ‘‘builder’’ category). The induction will take place Nov. 11.
Chelios was elected in his first year of eligibility, after his 26-year career — the longest in NHL history for a defenseman — ended in 2009-10 with the Atlanta Thrashers and the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.
‘‘It’s a great honor to be selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame,’’ Chelios said. ‘‘To have such a l ong career in the game has been fantastic for me, and being named to the Hall is a huge recognition for what I was able to accomplish.’’
Chelios, a native of Evergreen Park, became a Chicago icon during his nine seasons with the Hawks. He came back home to Chicago in a deal that sent another Hawks legend, Denis Savard, to the Montreal Canadiens after the 1989-90 season. Chelios already was an elite player by that point, seven seasons into his career and with the 1986 Stanley Cup and 1989 Norris Trophy under his belt. With the Hawks, he won the Norris twice more (1993 and 1996), scored 92 goals and handed out 395 assists.
“Chris defined toughness, perseverance and commitment,” Hawks chairman Rocky Wirtz said in a statement. “We are grateful and proud that he spent so many years of his incredible playing career as a member of the Blackhawks.”
But Chicago turned its back on him when he signed with the Red Wings — something he once insisted he never would do — in 1999. He went on to win two Stanley Cups in 10 seasons with the Red Wings but was booed lustily every time he returned to the United Center. He even was jeered on his own Hawks heritage night.
‘‘Does it bother me? Absolutely,’’ Chelios said in 2011. ‘‘But I understand it. I swore I’d never play for them, and then things changed overnight. The biggest reason for going to Detroit was not only was it a great team and a great opportunity, but it was four hours from here, and I was able to commute and see my family. They’re going to forgive me one day for that. They’ve gotta.’’
That day came Dec. 11, 2011, when Chelios was introduced at the United Center as a member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame class that year. The next time he comes to the United Center, he’ll be a member of the most prestigious class in hockey.
Chelios finished his career with 185 goals and 763 assists in 1,651 games, fifth all-time behind Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, Ron Francis and Mark Recchi. Only Howe played as many seasons (26) as Chelios.