Tuesday, November 24, 2009
On this date in 2006, Chris Chelios passed Phil Housley as the all-time leader in games played by an American born player when he skated in his 1,496th game as his Detroit Red Wings hosted the St. Louis Blues at the Joe Louis Arena.
Chelios' career began in 1983 as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, who drafted him in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, prior to the debut of MTV and six years before Sidney Crosby was born!
Other players drafted by the pick-rich Canadiens prior to selecting Chelios were Mark Hunter (628 NHL games played) 7th overall in the first round, Gilbert Delorme (541 GP) 18th in the first round, Jan Ingman (zero GP) 19th in the first round, and Lars Eriksson (zero GP) 32nd in the second round before picking Chelios 40th, the 16th defenseman chosen in the draft!
Chelios assault on the record was aided by his obvious durability, with 19 of Chelios 25 NHL seasons seeing him play in 65 games or more. In addition, he was on a number of successful teams, with deep playoff runs being a regular part of Chelios career. Nine times he would play an additional 14-24 postseason games for a total of 268 career playoff games plus 11 appearances for the United States in international competitions, often as team captain.
Chelios current career NHL total stands at 1,644 games played, 475 more than the four players Montreal drafted before him combined. While he is still actively playing, it is with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League and his days in the NHL could be at an end, but his experience could still prove to be valuable and earn him the opportunity to add to his NHL total later in the schedule.
Chelios would play seven seasons in Montreal, including winning the Stanley Cup in 1986, before moving to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for Denis Savard. Nine seasons in Chicago would be highlighted by another return to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992 before being traded to the rival Detroit Red Wings near the end of the 1998-99 season. Ten seasons in Detroit would earn Chelios another pair of Stanley Cups, in 2002 and again in 2008, with 2008 being a bit of a special case. Chelios would play in 14 playoff games that year, although none of them were in the final series versus Pittsburgh, but under league rules, he rightly earned having his named engraved on the cup for the third time.
During his career, Chelios was named the winner of the James Norris Trophy as the NHL's Best Defenseman in 1989, 1993 and 1996.
Other durable American players in the NHL after Housley (1,495 games played) have included;
#3 Mike Modano* (1,408), #4 Jeremy Roenick (1,363), #5 Mathieu Schneider* (1,272), #6 Craig Ludwig (1,256), #7 Bill Guerin* (1,207), #8 Brian Leetch (1,205), #9 Doug Weight* (1,195) and #10 Scott Young (1,181). Other still active players with a chance to move up include #15 Keith Tkachuk (1,152), #23 Brian Rolston (1,060) and #24 Todd Marchant (1,058).
* - active players
Today's featured jersey is a 1991-92 Chicago Blackhawks Chris Chelios jersey. This jersey is from the NHL's 75th Anniversary Season and was worn during the regular season with the NHL 75th Anniversary patch, but with the Blackhawks reaching the Stanley Cup Finals versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 75th Anniversary patch was covered up with the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals patch.
Here is an interview Chelios where he recaps his career and includes footage from the different teams he suited up for.
In this clip, the mentally insane Ron Hextall charges out of his net to attack Chelios for an earlier incident. Any enemy of Hextall is a friend of ours.
Finally, a clip we've been dying to run since the day we started this blog. In honor of our first follower in Twitter, Inglewood Jack, we proudly present Chris Chelios reminiscing about his favorite hockey coach, Jules Winnfield. Watch as Jules teaches his players the "Gourmet Shot" and of course, the "Inglewood Jack."