By Michael Caples –
In 2011, it was the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame calling the name of former Red Wings star Chris Chelios.
In 2013, it is a hall without a country’s name in front of it.
The Hockey Hall of Fame announced their Class of 2013 members today, and Chelios was the first inductee.
The Chicago native and Michigan hockey dad joins Scott Niedermayer, Brendan Shanahan, Geraldine Heaney and Fred Shero as the latest group to receive one of hockey’s highest honors.
Chelios, now 51 years old, retired three years ago, bringing to a close a historic and certainly lengthy NHL career. In his 26 professional seasons, Chelios played in 1,651 games – more than any other defenseman in league history. The first-ballot hall-of-famer was the oldest first-time candidate ever considered by the selection committee.
He compiled the NHL record for games played on the blue line while skating with the Montreal Canadiens, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Detroit Red Wings and the Atlanta Thrashers.
Throughout that career, Chelios collected three Stanley Cup rings, three Norris Trophies, an Olympic silver medal and a NCAA national championship, captured in 1983 with the University of Wisconsin. The Chicago native recorded 948 points during his NHL career, which helped him appear in 11 different NHL All-Star Games. He represented Team USA in four different Olympics Winter Games (1984, 1998, 2002, 2006) and helped the U.S. defeat Canada to win the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
Chelios spent nine seasons in Detroit after the Wings acquired him in a trade with his hometown Blackhawks for Anders Ericksson and two first-round picks. The rival-turned-fan favorite won two Stanley Cups after arriving in Detroit, and he now holds a front-office position with the club.
The trade also brought the rest of the Chelios bunch to Michigan’s hockey scene – Chris’ two sons, Dean and Jake, both play for Michigan State, while daughters Caley and Tara have been stand-outs for the Cranbrook-Kingswood girls’ team.
Chelios currently works as an advisor to hockey operations for the Red Wings. The hall-of-famer works with both the coaching staffs in Detroit and Grand Rapids and serves as a mentor for the organization’s prospects and young players.