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Chris Chelios played ‘until the tank was empty’

Jul 9, 2013, 9:01 PM EDT

Chris Chelios AP

It’s likely that just about every player – even Hall of Famers – retire with a regret or two. Leaving the game too early isn’t something that Chris Chelios is likely to ponder, however.

At 51, Chelios is the oldest first-time HHOF eligible candidate the selection committee ever considered, according to He seemed grateful to last long enough to appear in 1,651 games, which is the fifth-most among NHL defensemen and the most of any American-born player.

“I always said I’d go right until the tank was empty and I believe I did,” Chelios said.

Chelios was able to dispel any doubt by playing until he was 48, including a still-strange run with the Atlanta Thrashers (via Getty).

source: Getty Images


That’s quite the odd finish for a guy who began his career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1983.

“I came in and I played with Guy LaFleur, Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey,” Chelios said. “They took me under their wings and I learned from the best. Hockey players are great guys in general, but to learn from the best, guys who had so much success, you have to listen to them. That, I think, had a big bearing on my career.”

Of course, such a long run draws the stray joke, including this bit of needling from fellow inductee Scott Niedermayer (via Eric Stephens of the OC Register):

“I was part of one era. I think Chris was part of a few,” Niedermayer said.

  1. pensman29 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:23 PM

    Oh my god he played until he was 48! What!

    • pone27 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:44 PM

      pensman66… Cheli (True Blackhawk) will always be better than Larry Murphy. Sorry…

      Loved growing up and watching Cheli play. Easily my favorite dman of all-time.

  2. jettajedi - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:50 PM


  3. tiger7575 - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:18 PM

    Instead of being just a whiny dick playing hockey, he was an old whiny dick playing hockey.

    • bcsteele - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      …speaking of a whiny dick.

  4. billsfanaddict - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:47 PM

    CHEeeeeelllllLIOS, and luis, CHELIOS Kontos!!

  5. polegojim - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:34 AM

    The guy was a warrior… period…

    What an amazing example of grit and determination.

  6. fusionix7 - Jul 10, 2013 at 1:39 AM

    Biggest question left is what jersey he goes to the hall with. It has to be down to Chicago and Detroit.

    • alexbaymac - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:36 AM

      Chicago boy…but a Detroit employee at the moment. Tough call!
      …let’s send to Toronto for the review. 😉

    • halster71 - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      I dont know. Played for Detroit longer and won cups with Detroit. I think he goes in with a Wings jersey.

  7. blackhawks2010 - Jul 10, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Chelly won 2 Norris Trophies in Chicago and was a Six Time Captain and 5 time all star on the Hawks. Bottom line, his best years as a player were in Chicago, not Detroit.

    Wings won their Cups in the pre Salary Cap era, they had ownership who paid the most for the best players, hence they won. Chicago had Bill Wirtz who didn’t, there’s the difference. Chelios wanted to stay in Chicago, so did Balfour, Hasek, Roenick, Amonte, etc. If we kept our stars,we would of won several more Cups. That said. We are the best team today and future, Wings can reflect back and enjoy their former glory.

  8. dannythebisforbeast - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:16 PM

    25 years and he played only 6 full seasons…p***y

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