September 27, 2010
When he (finally) announced his retirement this summer at a press conference, Chris Chelios(notes) put over the Detroit Red Wings and the Ilitch family for "bringing me here, making me feel like part of the community." He retired in Detroit, with Red Wings logos behind him; then he went to work with the Wings front office as special advisor.
In other words: The only way Chris Chelios could be more of a Red Wing these days is if he had a Winged Wheel tattooed on his forehead and twirled an octopus with Ted Lindsay.
What he isn't these days: Synonymous with the Chicago Blackhawks, as the fans loudly reaffirmed during the Red Wings' game at Chicago on Saturday night when "Chris Chelios Heritage Night" was announced for Dec. 17.
According to Chris Boden of CSNChicago.com and Puck Buddy Matt F., who was at the game, there was "an overwhelming amount of booing" from the Chicago Blackhawks faithful when the announcement was made.
Chelios played parts of nine seasons for the Blackhawks and parts of 10 seasons with the Red Wings, with whom he won two Stanley Cups. He was born in Chicago, and tried to prolong his career with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
Yet we recall another former Blackhawks/Red Wings great who was honored in Chicago and received warmly: The late Bob Probert, who had his own Heritage Night in 2009. We asked our resident Blackhawks fan Kevin Kaduk of Big League Stew about the reaction Chelios Night received in comparison to Probert.
"We've always seemed willing to share Probert with the Red Wings, probably because we had no other choice. With Chelios, he was one of ours, a hometown boy that we lost to Michigan. We don't feel like we should have to share him."
It also helps that Probert pledged his allegiance to the Blackhawks; hard to imagine Chelios doing the same, considering who's signing his checks these days.
The Red Wings will be in town on Dec. 17 for Chelios Night. The first 10,000 fans who enter the building will receive special Heritage Night hats. Might we suggest to the Blackhawks that they hand out vouchers before the game and hats after it? Because this could get messy.