It’s likely that just about every player – even Hall of Famers – retire with a regret or two. Leaving the game too early isn’t something that Chris Chelios is likely to ponder, however.
At 51, Chelios is the oldest first-time HHOF eligible candidate the selection committee ever considered, according to NHL.com. He seemed grateful to last long enough to appear in 1,651 games, which is the fifth-most among NHL defensemen and the most of any American-born player.
“I always said I’d go right until the tank was empty and I believe I did,” Chelios said.
Chelios was able to dispel any doubt by playing until he was 48, including a still-strange run with the Atlanta Thrashers (via Getty).
That’s quite the odd finish for a guy who began his career with the Montreal Canadiens in 1983.
“I came in and I played with Guy LaFleur, Steve Shutt, Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey,” Chelios said. “They took me under their wings and I learned from the best. Hockey players are great guys in general, but to learn from the best, guys who had so much success, you have to listen to them. That, I think, had a big bearing on my career.”
Of course, such a long run draws the stray joke, including this bit of needling from fellow inductee Scott Niedermayer (via Eric Stephens of the OC Register):
“I was part of one era. I think Chris was part of a few,” Niedermayer said.