Chelios finally hangs ’em up after 26 NHL seasons

Chris Chelios, the longest-tenured defenseman in NHL history, is
finally hanging up his skates.

After 26 NHL seasons and three Stanley Cups, Chelios announced
his retirement Tuesday at the age of 48.

”I guess I’ve been dreading this day for a long time,” he said
at a news conference in Detroit.

Chelios, who won three Norris Trophies during a career that
included stops in Montreal, Chicago, Detroit and Atlanta, will
become an adviser with the Red Wings. His new job will include
working with Detroit’s front office and coaching staffs while
helping to develop and mentor young players.

In NHL history, only Hall of Famer Gordie Howe was older than
Chelios when he played, skating at 52 for the Hartford Whalers
during the 1979-80 season almost a decade after leaving the Red
Wings.

Chelios also is the only player in NHL history to appear in at
least 400 games with three different teams.

Known for his strict workout regimen and surprising endurance
given his age, he played the fourth-most regular season games in
NHL history (1,651) and the most postseason games in NHL history
(266).

Chelios said he has ”nothing left in the tank.”

Chelios represented the U.S. on four Olympic hockey teams,
including three as team captain – in 1984, in 1998, the
silver-medal team in 2002 and in 2006. He spent seven seasons with
the Canadiens before being traded to his hometown Chicago
Blackhawks in June 1990. He played nine seasons there before being
traded to conference rival Detroit.

He was limited to 28 games with Detroit during the 2008-09
regular season because of a broken leg suffered during an
exhibition game and the Wings chose not to bring him back following
season. Not ready to retire just yet, Chelios signed a few months
later with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, and in
March was recalled by the Atlanta Thrashers, where he appeared in
seven games.

”I loved every minute of it,” he said of his long career.

Chelios, who ranks second all-time among defensemen with 2,891
penalty minutes, had this to say Tuesday to the fans of opposing
teams: ”I hope you’ll forgive me for the things I did to some of
the players on your teams.”