Chris Chelios was traded by the Montreal Canadiens as the 40th overall in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. When he left the organization nine years later, he was one of the best defensemen in the league, and to say that it stirred up emotions when he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks would be an understatement.
Chris Chelios had to wait for his opportunity in the Canadiens team, but when he got the chance to show what he got, he took it. In 1984, he was in the team for good, and during the 84-85 season, he scored 64 points in 74 games.
Chris Chelios just got better, quickly becoming a hero in Montreal. In 1989-90, he became the first non-Canadian player to captain the Canadiens. But on June 29, 1990, he was traded to the Blackhawks. The shocking trade happened just one day after Chelios accusingly fought two police officers after a public urination.
Chelios went on to become one of the greatest defensemen of all time, but he never got away from the passion of the Canadiens fans.
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They had their own thoughts of the trade, and they just wouldn’t leave him be about it. And one time, things got out of hand.
”After the trade, I ran into two Montreal fans at the Lodge Bar on Division Street. These guys were riding me, accusing me of hating French-speaking people. I tried to keep the banter friendly, pointing out that it was the Canadiens who had decided to trade me. It was not my decision to leave,” Chelios said.
”The discussion continued to escalate until one of the fans asked me to step outside. ’I’m not fighting you,’ I said. ’You would sue me. I have too much to lose.’
”Then I had an idea. I told the guy to fetch a pen and a piece of paper and write CHRIS CHELIOS IS IN NO WAY RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS FIGHT. IT WAS MY IDEA TO FIGHT CHELIOS.
”The Montreal fan, who was about my age, agreed and carefully crafted his letter and signed it. I read it and then asked to see his driver’s license so I knew he was who he said he was.
”As he reached for his identification, I sucker-punched him square in his jaw. He was knocked out cold.
’That was a cheap shot,’ his friend said.
’Yep,’ I said. ’And I have his signed letter saying he asked for it.’
Source: “Chris Chelios: Made in America.”
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