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Let Cheli play!

As a long time fan of Chris Chelios and a native son of Chicago, it saddens me to see a professional of his standing and caliber relegated to "healthy scratch" status in what most likely will be his final Stanley Cup.

I question Mike Babcock's decision to remove him from the lineup. I understand the importance of the team over an individual, but in my view there has never been another hockey player in recent history that embodies that concept more than Chelios, who plays for the love of the game.

It is admirable how he has taken the "high road" and remained quiet about this decision, but it diminishes my view of the organization. As the last hockey player of my generation faces pending retirement, what saddens me more is the perception of our society that age is a detractor for a player like Chelios.

He has defied this construct and having witnessed him play live this year on numerous occasions, his knowledge of the game and its finer points more than make up for this "magical number" that many have used to define him by.

I wish Cheli the best as he marks another high point in his remarkable career and I hate to think of hockey without him should he retire. He has inspired many with his diligent work ethic and genuine love for his sport.

John Wheeler, Nashville, Tenn.

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