DETROIT – Chris Chelios has won the Stanley Cup with two franchises and made the final with another, so he knows something about team chemistry.
It explains why the 46-year-old Detroit Red Wings defenceman fits in so well with his other team, the Malibu Mob. Chelios is at the core of a group of athletes, entertainers and others who own property in the Southern California community, pal around and work out together.
The Malibu Mob includes Chelios, big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton, tennis star John McEnroe and actors Tony Danza, John Cusack and John C. McGinley, who provided some insight into the group’s activities.
McGinley, who stars as the fast-talking Dr. Perry Cox on the NBC (and soon to be ABC) sitcom “Scrubs,” grew up a Rangers fan in New York, but switched his allegiance to the Wings after his Malibu neighbour Chelios was traded from Chicago to Detroit in 1999.
McGinley said his fellow Mob members all are big Chelios fans and drop what they’re doing to see him play when Detroit is on the West Coast. They have seen the Red Wings play during recent stops in Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose.
If Chelios is in town, “the Mob is meeting,” McGinley said. “Whoever’s here is a quorum.”
The Mob members converge on a luxury box at the arena “so we can just completely bask in Cheli’s glory,” he said.
McGinley said Chelios is supportive of his fellow Mob members, visiting their movie sets when he can.
And in turn, McGinley said he hasn’t missed a single Red Wings playoff game on TV this season, watching the team advance to its first Cup final since 2002. McGinley’s prediction: Wings in six games over Pittsburgh.
Chelios, speaking between Games 1 and 2, confirmed the group’s existence, saying it is 20 members strong.
“I don’t know how it happened. Tony Danza came up with it,” he said. “Just a group of friends out there that came up with the name.”
Not only is McGinley a Wings fan, so is his character, whose love of the team has been displayed in more than a few “Scrubs” episodes.
In one, Cox sits in a bar having an uncomfortable, forced conversation with a fellow doctor until it is revealed the other man also likes the Red Wings.
“For the next 20 minutes, you will sit in silence while I tell you why the Detroit Red Wings are the greatest franchise in the history of professional sports,” Cox says.
“Scrubs” executive producer Bill Lawrence has spent time with Chelios and other members of the Malibu Mob, and a story line was born.
“He just knows I’m a big Cheli guy,” McGinley said. “He pretty much integrates anything from your real life into the show. He knew I was a huge Cheli fanatic and so he just made Dr. Cox a Cheli fanatic.”
McGinley said Mob members, like so many others, marvel at how Chelios still is able to play hockey at such a high level despite his advancing years.
Chelios earlier this season became the second-oldest player to play in an NHL game, attributing his longevity in part to a hardcore workout regimen, which McGinley says is the stuff of legend.
“If you saw the way he trained in the off-season. It’s astonishing,” he said. “We do a one-hour bike ride up a mountain. We started paddle-surfing, which is great for everything. He trains with his trainer down in Venice. … What we do all day is train and eat.”
And hang out together.
According to McGinley, the Mob has established two essential prerequisites for membership, which have been discussed “over more than a few meals down at Nobu and at the Greek place, Tony’s.”
-Land ownership: Members must own property in Malibu, even if it isn’t a primary residence.
-Compatibility: “You have to be able to call any person in the Mob and have dinner with them independent of any other person. It can’t be you and that guy get along, but you don’t get along with somebody else. You’re out. Plus, anybody can blackball you.”
And apparently, the Mob is willing to expand its numbers should the right candidate come along. Currently under consideration is a lifelong Wings fan – Detroit’s own Kid Rock (real name Robert Ritchie).
“Kid Rock is coming on quick,” McGinley said. “There will have to be a Mob vote. Bobby’s one of the guys. He’s just the best.”