Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Greatest Red Wings of MY Time - #12

You may have noticed a few changes in the blog. Truthfully, I was getting really tired looking at that ugly green and brown, and decided to shake things up a little. I feel like the new design is a little more visually-appealing, but I'm completely biased. Let me know if you guys like this better, or whether I should go back to the way it was.

To the news of the day. Darren Helm signed yesterday, and that sound you hear is every female Red Wing fan taking off their panties in celebration. Kenny pulls another rabbit out of the hat, getting him for 2 years at a cap hit of $912,500 per year. Drew over at NOHS had speculated it might be around $900K, so he was a little off, but we'll say his margin for error was +/- $25K, so that makes him right. The only one left to sign out of the Black Aces is Abdelkader, and I fully expect his deal to be done within a day or two. If I had to guess, I'd say we're going to be looking at a 2 year deal worth around the $850K he just earned. Let's face it; he hasn't done that much to warrant a substantial raise yet, so I could see him getting the same money for the first year, with an increase up to around $950K in the second year. That would give him a cap hit of $900K, which leaves them with a nice little cushion of $600K or so for injuries or callups during the season (that's strictly a guess, because Capgeek's calculator is not working for me right now).

Well, today's the day. I'm excited. Are you excited? This is the day that I've been waiting for since mid-July, when I discovered that this event was a possibility. Today is the day that my dreams come true.

I'm going to see Inception tonight.

What, you thought I was going to talk about Modano? He's been talked about to death. We all know he's going to sign today. But this movie has been hyped by every single person I know that has seen it, so I'm pumped. I've heard it makes the Matrix look like a pile of dog crap, which would make me sad, because I love The Matrix.

Today we look at #12 in our series of the Greatest Red Wings of My Time. Without further ado, here he is:

Chris Chelios

Pertinent Stats: 578 GP, 21 G, 113 A, 134 P, +158, 613 PIM
Awards: Mark Messier Leadership Award (2007)
Stanley Cups: 2 - 2002, 2008

I really struggled with this one. There was a time that he wasn't on the list, and when he did make it, he was all over the place. Ultimately, he ended up here, and even now, typing this, I'm still debating internally over his place on the list.

Like Bertuzzi and Cicarelli, Chelios came with a lot of baggage. Unlike the "I crushed a guy illegally" kind of baggage, his was more personal to Red Wing fans. Remember this? Yea, it pisses me off just reading that again. Think about it: not only was Chelios a member of Little Brother, but he was also from that area, and grew up hating the Wings long before he became a professional hockey player. Then, at the trade deadline in 1999, he is traded to the Wings to try and help them three-peat. The important thing to remember here is that not only was he traded by the Wings, but he waived his no-trade-clause to allow the move to happen. Can you imagine how awkward that meeting in the dressing room was? Yikes.

Chelios was always pretty good offensively, but in Detroit, he didn't have to be that guy anymore, and he was able to settle in on the 2nd pairing, giving the Wings some much-needed depth on the blueline. While he never cracked the 40 point plateau while playing with the Wings, he did hit the 30s a few times, and was never a minus player in his entire Wing career. In 2002, he led the NHL in +/- with a +40, and was named to the First NHL All-Star team. Fairly impressive for a 40 year old, eh? What Chelios did bring to the Wings was stability and experience, which the Wings utilized on their way to the Cup in 2002 (although that team was so freaking stacked that I could have played on there and they would have won). His experience proved vital in 2008 when the Wings won their first Cup in the post-Stevie era. I really believe that Cheli was a calming influence on the bench, especially since the Wings were largely made up of players that had not won a Cup up to that point, especially the stars.

Everyone knows what a workout freak Chelios is, and that allowed him to play with the Wings until the age of 47. When I'm 47, I'll be happy if I can get out of a chair without my knees sounding like the Under Armour commercials (click clack). This was impressive because he remained a physical presence while with the Wings, willing to throw his body around or mix it up with guys half his age and twice his size. While his physical skills and overall speed diminished towards the end of his career, I was amazed at how smart he was on the ice. I guess that comes with being in the league for 50 years, but no matter who the opponent was, they were not going to out-think Chelios. Chelios was also relatively healthy during his Red Wing tenure, only missing significant time in 2000-01 with a knee injury. Not bad considering he was 37 when he was traded to the Wings.

I guess for me, Chelios' importance to the team is not very obvious. At no point during his time here was he ever the "star" of the team. He always seemed content to be a depth guy on the blueline, eating up minutes by playing sound, positional hockey. He was never an offensive dynamo, but it was extremely rare that he made a mistake that led to a goal, which in my books is just as important. The Wings had Lidstrom, Duchesne, Fischer and Rafalski while he was here to score the goals; Chelios' job was to make sure none went in. As he got older, he stopped playing against the other teams' top lines, but he was still an effective defender. I also believe that his presence in the dressing room was important to the development of Ericsson and Lebda (don't snicker - imagine how much Lebda would have pinched if Chelios wasn't there?) The main thing with Chelios, though, was just how smart he was on the ice. He rarely gave the puck away; he rarely pinched at an inopportune time; and he was rarely caught out of position during play. It's amazing to me that a guy who didn't initially want to play here re-signed with the Wings 4 times; hell, if it was up to him, I'm sure he would still be a Red Wing. For these reasons, he gets the #12 spot on the list of Greatest Red Wings of My Time.


  1. Personally, I liked the old layout better. It was more streamlined, I think.

    And I love how Cheli made Detroit his home. Opening Cheli's Chili, ect. Things like that endeared him to me.

  2. Christin,

    I'm still toying with the layout. This was just something I wanted to try. Regardless of the look, the style of the writing won't change.

    I agree. He really made Detroit a second home, and for Wing fans, he'll be remembered as a Red Wing, not as a Blackhawk who played for the Wings.

  3. Graham-

    First off, Inception is freaking AMAZING!!! The first few minutes are a total mind fuck and have you wondering 'what the hells going on????' After you get it, you're hooked. Let me know what you thought about it... Did you think his totem stopped spinning????

    Second, I definitely am digging the new layout. It's not as dark and generic as the other. The font used is better as well.

    As far as Chelios goes, I always think about that comment he made as well. I want to know what his first reasoning was to waiving that trade clause to come here? Were we offering him a ridiculous contract? There wasn't a cap then so its possible... Ill have to do some digging with that one. But he seemed like a genuine and overall nice guy who everyone wanted to be around. When ESPN did 'the season' on the Wings I remember how funny he was in the locker room and during practices. Another thing too is I agree that he wasn't a flashy guy but I think its also good to not notice him because in turn it could mean he wasn't making dumb decisions. Good choice for the list!


  4. Brandon,

    The layout is still a work in progress. As I have looked at it a little more, there's some tweaking I want to do with it. But I like that it's brighter and doesn't look like a Wild blog anymore.

    Words can not express how lucky you are that I had seen the movie when I saw this comment. If you had ruined the movie for me, I would have hunted you down to unleash the worst punishment any man could take: reading every Florida Panther blog on the internet.

    Given the chemistry in the Wings' dressing room combined with the veteran presence that was already there when Chelios arrived, it would have been extremely hard for him to disrupt that. Winning certainly will trump most negative feelings he may have had about donning the Winged Wheel.

  5. Wait, are there really Florida Panther blogs out there? Ha!

  6. I like the new layout . . . a lot.

  7. Jiri Fischer didn't really score goals.... I still remember his first career goal, about halfway through his second season.