It’s Ok to root for Chris Chelios



By Paul M. Banks

One of the weirdest aspects of a rivalry is when a player changes teams, and goes to his former team’s bitterest of rivals.

Even though he’s been wearing a Detroit Red Wings sweater now for 9 years (the same number of years he was “committed to the Indian”) when Chris Chelios came to town and you just had to root for him, even though he helped do the Blackhawks in. If you didn’t then you fit in to Jerry Seinfeld’s “sports fans are rooting for clothes” routine.

(We’re currently seeing the same thing with Joe Crede leaving the Sox for the Twins) Rivalries are all about black-versus-white, but when it comes to situations like this, it’s actually a shade of grey. With an injury to all-world defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, as well as his back-up Ericcson, Chelios got his chance to contribute during the Western Conference Finals and helped his team defeat the Blackhawks 6-1 in game 4. Doing the ceremonial puck drop that game was Bob Probert another guy who played for both the Red Wings and Hawks. Chelios spoke about the playoff atmosphere:

“I had a good feeling when it was Proby, because he played for the Wings and the Hawks, everything they’ve done from the marketing to the bringing back the veterans Bobby Hull, Mikita. It’s good to see them back in the building, I’m playing hockey for one reason: because I grew up watching the Hawks,” the Evergreen Park native said.

Of course, I disagree, I think it’s disgusting that the Hawks gave Probert (a man who couldn’t play games in Canada because his cocaine-related possessions made it illegal for him to travel there, a man who’s vast array of legal problems also include his being pulled over for driving with a blood alcohol concentration triple the legal limit, a guy who’s on-ice accomplishments pretty much centered around being a thug) the puck drop and a “Heritage Night” honoring.

But enough being a negative nelly, Chelios commented after the game about how the roar has been restored in Chicago hockey. “It reminded me of being in the old stadium. It’s different when you’re on the other team, but I feed off of that and I think our team likes the atmosphere,” Chelly said.

The 47 year old University of Wisconsin-Madison alum is the second oldest player in league history (he’s older than his coach Mike Babcock) to Gordie Howe. Is this finally it for him? “Everybody’s trying to get rid of me, it’s crazy, but they’ll miss me when I’m gone, so I’ll stay around as long as someone wants me, I love playing,” Chelios said.

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  1. mswollering says

    Dude…one major injury and the guy’s in a wheelchair. Not just because of the injury but because rehabbing near-senior citizens takes time!

    Still, if he wants to keep playing, I say let him. At least he’s committed and puts in the effort each and every year and never makes the media institute ‘tractor watch’ for him in Mississippi. Plus, hockey is just a different sport altogether and players can get away with being 47.

  2. He’s still playing because he’s broke not for love of the game. How about Packers fans who will root for Favre if he plays for the Vikings. With the younger generations it become less about rooting for a team as much as a player. They will root for the name or the face long before the jersey.

    I think they should have had Neal Broten drop the puck! What a great Blackhawks killer! Go North Stars!

  3. One minor correction. Probert was not barred from traveling to Canada. He is a Canadian Citizen after all. The problem was that if he left the US there was the possibility that he might not be allowed back in because of the arrest.

  4. paulmbanks says

    Good call Tim. I knew he was arrested crossing the border, but got a bit confused about which side possibly..thanks.

  5. paulmbanks says

    Why not have Dino Ciccarelli drop the puck?

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