DETROIT – Chris Chelios thinks he has at least one more season left in his 46-year-old legs.
The veteran defenceman signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday and is prepared to accept a lesser role with the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“Obviously in my situation and age, and being on the best team in the league – you have some young guys on the team that you have to play or you’re going to lose them – so I understand the situation and I love playing here,” Chelios was quoted as saying on the team’s website. “My role, I’ve accepted that, so I’ll make the best of it.
“I guess I can say I’m a survivor because I’m still here at this age. But things change quick in this game. We’ll start the season and I’ll make the best of it and work hard.”
He was a healthy scratch during the Stanley Cup final last season and might end up watching more games from the press box this year.
Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall and Brad Stuart will be mainstays on the Wings blue-line with the remaining two or three spots spread between Chelios, Andreas Lilja, Brett Lebda, Jonathan Ericsson, Derek Meech and Kyle Quincey, who signed a two-year contract on Tuesday.
Chelios is the second-oldest player in NHL history, first appearing during the 1983-84 season with Montreal. He won the Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1986 before capturing it two more times with the Red Wings (2002, 2008).
He appeared in 69 regular-season games last season, scoring three goals and 12 points.
In 1,616 career games with the Habs, Blackhawks and Red Wings, Chelios has 185 goals and 948 points.