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Thrashers sign Chelios for insurance

Tuesday, 03.02.2010 / 12:15 PM / News

By John McGourty - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Thrashers sign Chelios for insurance
The Atlanta Thrashers have signed veteran defenseman Chris Chelios.
The Atlanta Thrashers have signed veteran defenseman Chris Chelios, 48, a three-time Stanley Cup winner, according to the Blueland Blog on the Thrashers' website. Chelios played 44 games this season for the Thrashers' AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves, where he had 5 goals and 21 points and was plus-35.

Chelios will remain with the Wolves once he clears waivers and would join the Thrashers if needed. Atlanta's defense is currently set with Pavel Kubina, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya, Zach Bogosian and Mark Popovic. Veterans Christoph Schubert and Boris Valabik are on injured reserve. In another move, the Thrashers traded defense prospect Nathan Oystrick to Anaheim Monday for forward Evgeny Artyukhin.

Chelios, a three-time Norris Trophy winner, would be the oldest player in the NHL if he returns this season.

For his career, Chelios' 763 assists place him fourth on the active list behind Recchi, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mike Modano. Chelios, who has 185 goals, is 11th with 948 points. His 2,891 penalty minutes make him the active leader, displacing Donald Brashear, who has 2,634. His 13 short-handed goals make him the active leader among NHL defenseman and fourth all-time behind Mark Howe, Paul Coffey and Bobby Orr.

Chelios holds the NHL record with 24 Stanley Cup Playoff appearances. His teams have missed the playoffs only once in his career. Chelios holds the record with 266 Stanley Cup Playoff games played. No other American has played more NHL games than Chelios.

Only Gordie Howe (26 seasons) played more NHL seasons than Chelios. Mark Messier is tied. Only Howe, Messier and Ron Francis have played more games. Chelios is third with 1,910 combined regular-season and playoff games, behind Messier and Howe.

Chelios is plus-352, second only to Lidstrom's plus-429, in his 25-year NHL career that began with the Montreal Canadiens during the 1983-84 season. He helped the Canadiens win the 1986 Stanley Cup when he had two goals and 11 points in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games, along with 49 minutes in penalties.

Chelios also won the Stanley Cup with the 2002 and 2008 Detroit Red Wings. Chelios also played for the Chicago Blackhawks, whom he helped lead to the 1992 Stanley Cup Final against the victorious Pittsburgh Penguins. He had six goals and 21 points and was plus-19 in 18 playoff games.

Chelios' best season was with the 1989 Canadiens, when he had 15 goals and 73 points and went plus-35 with 185 minutes in penalties. That Canadiens' team lost the 1989 Stanley Cup Final to the Calgary Flames in six games. Chelios had four goals and 19 points and was plus-2 in 21 playoff games.

Chelios was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman in 1989, 1993 and 1996. A rugged customer throughout his career, Chelios had a career-high 282 penalty minutes in 1992-93.

His list of NHL honors is extensive. He was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1989, 1993, 1995, 1996 and 2002 and to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 1991 and 1997. Chelios was named to the 1985 NHL All Rookie Team and won the 2002 Bud Light Plus-Minus Award with a plus-40 rating. He played in 11 NHL All Star Games.

Chelios was a member of Team USA in four Olympics, 1984, 1998, 2002 and 2006, winning silver in 2002 at Salt Lake City. He played in three Canada Cups, two World Cups, three World Championships and RendezVous '87.

Born in Chicago in 1962, Chelios was a local teen star before joining the Moose Jaw Canucks of the Tier II Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for two seasons.

He then attended the University of Wisconsin, leading the Badgers to the final game of the 1982 NCAA championship, falling to the North Dakota team that included Dave Tippett, Darren Jensen, Jon Casey and future Blackhawks teammate Troy Murray. Chelios was the fifth-leading scorer on the team that included Bruce Driver, Brian Mullen and Pat Flatley.

Chelios helped lead the Bob Johnson-coached Badgers to the 1983 NCAA championship, defeating Harvard.

Chelios was the Canadiens' second-round selection, 40th overall, in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He played seven seasons for Montreal before the June 29, 1990, trade that sent him and a second-round draft pick to the Blackhawks for Denis Savard. Chelios spent nine seasons in Chicago before the March 23, 1999, trade that sent him to Detroit for Anders Eriksson and two No. 1 draft picks.

Although Chelios was sound for most of his career, he missed all but 24 games in 2000-01 with a serious knee injury and all but 28 games in 2008-09 with a broken leg.


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