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Chris Chelios about to become No. 2 in career playoff games played

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

And Chelios knows going deep into the NHL post-season will help induce GM Ken Holland to keep this team intact, which would enhance the chances of the blue-liner staying put for a 23rd season. "I've got a family and it would be really tough to make a decision if I wasn't able to re-sign with Detroit," Chelios said. "It just depends on how the playoffs go.

"I'm not worried about it. I'm having a good time and, hopefully, we'll continue this run."

He's an athletic marvel.

Chelios routinely sweats out 45-minute sessions on a stationary bike in a sauna, pumping his legs as the sweat oozes from every pore in his six-foot-one, 190-pound frame. Some of his teammates, who can't hack the sauna challenge, call him a freak of nature.

"I started doing that with Gary Suter back in college," he says.

Chelios and the now-retired Gary Suter were University of Wisconsin teammates after Chelios was drafted in 1981.

Chelios used to run a lot, but not any more.

"I mountain bike quite a bit," he said. "It's a lot easier on the legs.

"Anybody will tell you, you get older and impact is not good on your knees. I figured just to switch it up I'd try some different training - a lot of water sports and mountain biking."

Bikes in saunas, mountain biking - he has younger teammates who can't keep up with him. So, his ability to hang around this long is no mystery.

Only two men appeared in more playoff games. Patrick Roy was in 247, Mark Messier skated in 236 and Chelios had 234 to his credit going into Detroit's second-round opener against San Jose Thursday.

Only once since entering the league in 1984 has he missed out on the playoffs. That was 1998.

"I've been fortunate to be on competitive teams - Montreal, Chicago and now here," he said. "That's got a lot to do with the reason I'm still around - the success of the teams I've been on."

He's had mangled joints and broken bones.

"I've had injuries but nothing I haven't bounced back from," he said. "I've healed well."

Chelios piled up points in his early seasons, he won the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986 and with Detroit in 2002, and he won the Norris Trophy as top defenceman three times.

It wasn't that long ago, 2002, that he was named to the first all-star team after topping the plus-minus charts with a plus-40 season.

He doesn't rush the puck up the ice much anymore. Those 45-year-old legs won't allow him to do that often. So, he's reverted to being, primarily, a stay-at-home defenceman, which is a difficult assignment today with penalties being called for barely touching an opponent above the waist with the stick.

"They're trying to create offence so it's not going to benefit the defencemen," he said. "I would doubt if there's one defenceman in the league who likes the new rules except for the guys who are real offensive defencemen.

"Don't go writing I hate the new rules. I just said they don't benefit defensive defencemen."

Internationally, he has represented the United States 10 times and is a four-time Olympian.

Off the ice, there have been tumultuous times.

Chelios is of Greek heritage - he was born Christos Kostas Tselios in Chicago on Jan. 25, 1962 - and got into bobsled racing in an unsuccessful attempt to form a team to represent Greece at the 2006 Olympics.

He was instrumental in forcing the recent shakeup at the NHLPA.

He temporarily left the Red Wings in January after two employees at one of his two Cheli's Chili Bar restaurants were stabbed to death.

Now his mind is on the Sharks.

He was asked if he's ever asked Gordie Howe about what it was like playing in the NHL until the age of 52.

"No, I haven't," he said. "I speak with him all the time because he's here quite a bit but not about that."

Howe came back so he could skate on the same NHL team as two of his sons.

Chelios has a 17-year-old who plays hockey.

"He's a goal-scoring phenomenon," Chelios boasts.

Would he try to carry on and wait and see if his son gets a big-league shot?

"Oh, I'd love to," said Chelios. "It's a long ways off though.

"He's just coming out of high school. I hope he makes it but right now we're shooting for college."

He'll take it one year at a time, and hope for a long playoff run by the Red Wings.


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