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Chelios praised as a 'war horse'

by Corey Masisak

After James Duthie welcomed everyone to the proceedings at the 2013 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Ken Dryden narrated a tribute to members of the military on Remembrance Day in Canada and Veterans Day in the United States.

The first Hall inductee to be honored was Chris Chelios. Pat Quinn called Chelios a "defensive war horse" in the introduction to the evening. Chelios spent parts of 26 seasons in the League, playing more than anyone in history save for fellow Detroit Red Wings legend Gordie Howe.

Chelios was a larger-than-life figure in the NHL, and many of his famous friends were here for the ceremony. Among those here to celebrate with Chelios and walking the red carpet before the ceremony were Tony Danza, Cuba Gooding, Jr., John Cusack, John McEnroe, D.B. Sweeney and John McGinley.

Chelios began with talking about the surreal story of how he ended up becoming an NHL player. He used the word "comical" to describe how he was able to make it as a kid who grew up in California, where there wasn't much hockey played.

He talked about not having any hockey heroes growing up, but looking up to Dick Butkus after spending his early years in Chicago. Instead of thanking the Hockey Hall of Fame, he apologized for being "the biggest pain in the rump" in the history of the Hall because of all the people he brought with him to Toronto this weekend.

Chelios thanked his coaches in Moose Jaw for giving him a "crash course" in becoming a defenseman. He thanked his coaches at the University of Wisconsin, "Badger" Bob Johnson and Jeff Sauer.

He said when people ask him how he was able to play so long in the NHL, he always says, "Patrick Roy, Eddie Belfour, Dominik Hasek and Chris Osgood" because they were the great goaltenders who have helped him look good on some nights where he wasn't.

Chelios recapped his incredible career, thanking coaches and general managers and teammates from Montreal, Chicago and Detroit along the way.

Next Chelios spoke of his involvement in labor negotiations. He called it the "ugly" part of the game and said no one won, but thanked past prominent members of the NHL Players' Association and urged younger players to educate themselves on the stories of past players like Ted Lindsay.

After that, he said he wanted to talk about the "beautiful" part of the game, in which he thanked his family. After saying that he forgot about the joke he was going to open with and saying his speech was actually going better than he expected or hoped, Chelios closed with saying the most important thing has always been his family and friends and this night could be classified as "what an ending."


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