Chris Chelios was special. As a 47-year-old who had won the Stanley Cup three times and the Norris Trophy three times, most wouldn’t even consider continuing to play.
Why would you even think about playing if no NHL organization offers you a contract? But Chelios wasn’t like any other we’d ever seen. He had played over 1,600 games over a 25-season career but refused to quit. Even if it meant playing in the AHL.
In the 2009-10 season, Chelios signed with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. He did get called up to the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL, but as soon as the season finished, he went back to play with the Wolves in the AHL playoffs.
One of the greatest players ever suddenly walked into an AHL locker room. It was a great opportunity for him to be close to his family and, at the same time, play hockey.
His son was playing for the Chicago Steel in the USHL at the time. His parents lived close by. But most of all, Chelios just loved playing hockey and loved being on a team.
There are so many stories about Chelios’ iconic year in the AHL as a 47-year-old, all of which are great and impressive. Chelios was always the last one in the dressing room after games, as he did workouts afterward.
When he had played his first game with the Wolves and was alone with the coaches, he asked general manager Wendell Young something he would never forget.
According to The Athletic, this is how it all went down.
”Chelios: ’Do you think they would mind if I came by and had a beer with them?’
Young: ’Cheli, seriously? These guys will freak out. Do you understand who you are?’
Chelios: ’I don’t want to infringe.’
Young: ’Are you kidding me?’”
Young said that most of Chelios’ teammates probably couldn’t believe it was true.
“In a short time, he was one of the guys,” he said. “It was one of those things where some guys were starstruck but probably had to tell themselves, ‘He’s one of my teammates. I can’t be starstruck.’”