It’s Ok to root for Chris Chelios

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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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