In a noon press conference yesterday, Chris Chelios finally did the unthinkable: he walked away from the ice. He did so not because he couldn’t physically perform or attack the grind. He did so because it was time.
Nearly 28 years after he first played in the NHL, he’s accepted a front office job with the Detroit Red Wings: a team that he called his own for nearly ten years. Much has been said about his retirement press conference, and rightfully so, he covered an unbelievable amount of ground at a time when most players just kind of thank key figures and hope to move along quickly before the water works come.
It’s quite possible that Chris Chelios was only thanking key figures; there have just been so many of them in his incredibly long career — one that saw him play to an age that only Gordie Howe can boast about surpassing — that it took the better part of an hour to get them all in.
I’ve said it before in this place I call home: I’ll be forever grateful that I got to witness Chelios’ final stride as a Red Wing. Everyone in the building knew it, and he took an extra lap so that we could say goodbye the way that he deserved: by cheering — loudly — from our feet, during warmups, at the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Final.
Something from yesterday’s press conference that stood out to me above all of the other wonderful sentiment and funny stories is the following. I contemplated posting ONLY these words, but his departure from the game (the playing part, anyway) deserved a little bit more. I leave you with only Chris Chelios’ words about what it meant to be a Detroit Red Wing: