Chris Chelios: three-time Norris Trophy Winner, 1,547 games played, first among American born players.
Oldest active NHL player at 45, second only to Patrick Roy in playoff appearances. Two Stanley Cup rings. Beloved in Chicago as well as Detroit. Restaurateur of successful establishments in both Detroit and Chicago.
With such and impressive resume and so much to play for, why is Chris Chelios on the bench?
Is he injured? Or has his so-so play in the playoffs convinced Mike Babcock to go with the younger guys? After all, Chelios IS 45, and while I am certain he is in excellent shape for any age, there is a lot of difference between the speed of a 45-year-old and someone half his age at 22 or 23. Chelios, once a hard-skating tenacious forechecker, has been reduced to more of a stay at home defenseman. And that is because he simply cannot handle big minutes playing with the quick Detroit transition game.
Maybe it is time for Chelios to certainly ponder retirement. No player ever really wants to stop playing. But considering he is the oldest player in the NHL and the age starting to effect ability, maybe it is time.
Steve Yzerman was an example of a player who maybe stayed too long. Excellent leader, excellent player and all-around good guy, the man who stuck with the Wings through the good and bad times played a year or two longer than he should have.
His knee injuries were keeping him out of the lineup for long stretches of time, and even when he could play, his wonky knees robbed him of much of his skating skill. But yet, as the Captain, he played through it. But everyone knew it was time for Stevie—and now it is time for Chris.
I believe if the Wings win the Stanley Cup, as much as he may not want to, Chris Chelios will, or at least should, retire. The old Red Wings, the one of the Russian-five and the record-setting Scotty Bowman years, are over. While the Red Wings are as strong a team as ever, the icons that Chelios played with—Yzerman, Federov, Shannahan, Kozlov—are either retired or with different teams.
Chelios, a certain hall-of-famer and one of the icons of the game, should leave on top, and not be forced from the game at a low point.