Throughout their history, the Chicago Wolves have consistently developed players for NHL success.
It hasn't mattered who their NHL parent club has been.
Whether it be for the Atlanta Thrashers, Vancouver Canucks or St. Louis Blues, the Wolves have been an important part of several players' careers.
This has been both for players breaking into the league, and at times, for players who've elected to play for Chicago after their NHL careers, before retiring. Here is our unofficial list counting down 10 Wolves alumni who had notable NHL careers.
1. Chris Chelios
Years With Chicago: 2009-10
It's widely forgotten that Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios chose to play one final of pro hockey after his final NHL season, joining his hometown Chicago Wolves at age 47 in 2009-10. Although Chelios was clearly not the defenseman he was when he won three Norris Trophies as the league's top defenseman, he chipped in 22 points in 46 regular-season games and got into 14 more contests with the Wolves in the playoffs before retiring.
2. Jay Bouwmeester
Years With Chicago: 2004-05
2004-05 was perhaps the most memorable season in AHL history, with several (eligible) players being sent to that league by their NHL clubs during the lockout. Then a young, blue chip prospect with the Florida Panthers, Bouwmeester played most of the 2004-05 season for the AHL's San Antonio Rampage, before a late season AHL trade (the parent club keeps the player's rights, but loans him to another franchise's AHL squad for compensation) sent Bouwmeester to the Wolves. Bouwmeester helped the Wolves reach the 2004-05 Calder Cup Final, where they were defeated by the Philadelphia Phantoms.
3. Stephen Weiss
Years With Chicago: 2004-05
Like Bouwmeester, Weiss, a Florida Panther, was loaned from San Antonio to Chicago late in the 2004-05 season. Weiss exploded for 16 points (7g, 9a) in 18 games down the stretch of the regular season, and added nine points in 18 games en route to a conference championship.
4. Bryan Little
Years With Chicago: 2007-08
Now a regular 20-goal scorer with the Winnipeg Jets, Little has been in the Winnipeg/Atlanta franchise since he was drafted 12th overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. Part of Little's journey with Atlanta/Winnipeg was with the Chicago Wolves, who he joined during the 2007 playoffs. Little also played the entire 2007-08 season with Chicago, scoring eight playoffs goals and winning a Calder Cup championship.
5. Braydon Coburn
Years With Chicago: 2005-07
The No. 8 pick in the stacked 2003 NHL Draft, defenseman Braydon Coburn joined the Wolves as a 20-year-old in 2004-05, and was part of the squad stacked with future NHL impact players that advanced to the Calder Cup Final. Coburn played an additional season-and-a-half in Chicago, between callups to the Atlanta Thrashers, before being traded to the Philadelphia Flyers and establishing himself as a regular NHL player.
6. Kari Lehtonen
Years With Chicago: 2003-05
Before joining the Dallas Stars, his current team, Lehtonen was drafted No. 2 in the 2002 NHL Draft and was the NHL's top up-and-coming goalie. At this stage in his career, Lehtonen played the majority of his first two North American professional seasons with the Wolves, backstopping them to a berth in the 2005 Calder Cup Final. Later in his career, Lehtonen played an additional six games with Chicago during injury rehab stints while a member of the Atlanta Thrashers.
7. Troy Murray
Years With Chicago: 1996-97
During the 1980s, Troy Murray was a mainstay with the Chicago Blackhawks, with him he scored 45 goals in 1985-86. In total, Murray played 10 seasons for the Blackhawks and scored 20 or more goals five times before moving onto the Winnipeg Jets, returning for a second tour with the Blackhawks and finishing his NHL career with the 1995-96 Colorado Avalanche. The following year, Murray finished his hockey career by playing one years for the Wolves when they were still part of the International Hockey League.
8. Ondrej Pavelec
Years With Chicago: 2007-09
After Kari Lehtonen graduated to full-time duty with the Atlanta Thrashers, the franchise's next up-and-coming goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, became the backbone of the Chicago Wolves. Pavelec played in 23 of 24 playoff games that year, leading the Wolves to the Calder Cup championship.
9. Chris Tanev
Years With Chicago: 2011-13
Tanev doesn't often receive attention on a national scale, but has quietly blossomed into an effective shutdown defenseman with the Vancouver Canucks. After struggling when he broke into the NHL with the Canucks in 2010-11, Tanev returned to the AHL with the Wolves for the better half of two seasons, when he transformed himself from a borderline NHL player into a member of the Canucks' top pair.
10. Derek MacKenzie
Years With Chicago: 2001-07
Now the captain of the Florida Panthers, MacKenzie had an extended tour in the minor leagues before establishing himself as a regular NHL player. From 2001-07, he played for the Chicago Wolves, winning a Calder Cup in 2002.