Chris Chelios was all smiles in 1996 after signing a three-year extension with the Blackhawks worth $10.5 million. (Sun-Times file)
The man who many deem the best American-born hockey player ever to don an NHL uniform is a free agent. Chris Chelios, the Chicago native who played for the Blackhawks from 1990-99, is no longer a Detroit Red Wing.
The decision not to re-sign the 47-year-old defenseman doesn't come as a surprise, as he only played 28 games last season for the Stanley Cup runners-up after suffering a leg injury early in the season.
From the Detroit News:
General manager Ken Holland met with Chelios on Monday and officially told him the Wings wouldn't be bringing him back after 10 seasons.
"It was kind of understood last summer that the 2008-09 season would be the last one for Cheli as a Red Wing," said (General Manager Ken) Holland, noting the need for the Wings to bring in young players such as Jonathan Ericsson. "Cheli wants to play another season, and I believe he can still play."
Holland went on to call Chelios "a perfect role model for young players." The average age in the Blackhawks locker room last year was 25.5 -- meaning the team certainly has its share of young players.
What do you think, Hawks fans? His former GM says he can still play. So, do you want Cheli back at the United Center in a Blackhawks uniform for the 2009-10 season? Would this proven winner be a welcome role model for these baby Blackhawks, or does the team simply not require the services of a 47-year-old defenseman?