Back in Chicago, Chelios is named Blackhawks ambassador
Just days after leaving the Red Wings organization to return to his hometown of Chicago, Chris Chelios was named an ambassador for the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday.
Chelios, who returned home for family reasons, played for the Blackhawks from 1990-91 until he was traded to the Wings in 1998-99. He won two of his three Norris Trophies (1992-93 and 1995-96) as the NHL’s best defenseman there and served as Chicago’s captain from 1995 until the trade.
“To be able to join the Blackhawks organization in this role means everything to me,” Chelios said in a statement. “I’m very thankful to (owner) Rocky Wirtz and (president) John McDonough for this opportunity to return to the Blackhawks. Chicago is my hometown and returning to this organization is very special to me and my family.”
Former Detroit coach Scotty Bowman is also a member of the Blackhawks organization, as a senior advisor of hockey operations. His son, Stan, is Chicago’s general manager.
“We are excited to welcome Chris back to the Blackhawks family,” McDonough said. “His outstanding Blackhawks’ career and his passion for the game will complement the work that our current ambassadors carry out to represent the organization.”
Chelios, 56, joins fellow former Blackhawks and Hockey Hall of Famer members Tony Esposito, Bobby Hull, Stan Mikita and Denis Savard as ambassadors representing the team at the United Center and at events throughout Chicagoland.
Chelios played in Detroit for 10 seasons, helping it win the Stanley Cup in 2002 and 2008. He appeared in 578 games and had 21 goals and 131 assists for 152 points, 613 penalty minutes and was plus-158 with the Wings.
“Admittedly, I was skeptical about the 1999 trade that brought me to Detroit,” he said. “As a Chicago guy who was playing for the Blackhawks at the time, we despised those Detroit teams of the 1990s.
“After the trade, however, things changed quickly, and I began to feel right at home. What an unbelievable experience, playing on some of the greatest teams in league history with some of the greatest players of all time.”
He finished his career with the Atlanta Thrashers organization, finally retiring at the end of the 2009-10 season at the age of 48. He played for 26 seasons in the NHL, tying Gordie Howe for the record.
Chelios held several roles with the Red Wings. He has helped on the ice as an unofficial assistant coach in Detroit and with the Grand Rapids Griffins.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013.
In his statement, Chelios thanked and praised the Wings’ organization, the Ilitch family, GM Ken Holland and the fans.
“To the fans in Detroit, I want to say thank you. You embraced me from Day One,” Chelios said. “My experience in Detroit was a lot of fun, and we definitely had some unforgettable times together. Just know that I won’t be a stranger. I plan on visiting the area whenever I can, especially now that my son, Jake, is playing in the Wings organization.”
Jake, a defenseman, signed a one-year deal with Detroit on July 1. He’ll play for the Griffins.
Chelios still owns Cheli’s Chili Bar in downtown Detroit.