Chris Chelios will have his No. 7 retired by the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 25 before they play the Detroit Red Wings at United Center in Chicago.

The 61-year-old Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman was surprised by his friend, Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder, with the announcement before more than 20,000 fans at United Center on Thursday.

"I really thought it was a tribute for Rocky (Wirtz, Blackhawks owner who died July 25 at age 70)," Chelios said Friday. "Then I kind of, I go, 'I think I know what's happening here' and then I was in shock. ... The whole band, they've been a part of my life personally since 1995 and even before that, when I followed Pearl Jam and then to actually become friends with them. Eddie is a special person. ... He truly loves Chicago and his heart is here and I couldn't ask for a better friend. To have it done that way ... that was special."

Born and raised in Chicago, Chelios is a Blackhawks ambassador and will be the ninth player in their history to have his number retired, joining Glenn Hall (No. 1), Pierre Pilote (No. 3), Keith Magnusson (No. 3), Bobby Hull (No. 9), Denis Savard (No. 18), Stan Mikita (No. 21), Tony Esposito (No. 35) and Marian Hossa (No. 81).

"Rocky wanted Chris to be the next Blackhawk to have his jersey retired and would have loved to see this moment," chairman Danny Wirtz said. "We look forward to celebrating Chris' career in February with his family, friends and sharing it all with Blackhawks fans."

The 2013 Hall of Fame inductee retired after the 2009-10 season, playing 26 seasons, including nine with Chicago from 1990-99. He ranks fourth in Blackhawks history among defensemen in assists (395) and points (487) and fifth in goals (92) and games (664). He was their captain from 1995-99 and attended Mount Carmel High School on Chicago's south side and later the University of Wisconsin.

"Honestly, that's when I did think about [not having his number retired]," Chelios said. "I thought you know, maybe, I just didn't play anywhere long enough. My career was 26-27 years but it just felt like I didn't play anywhere long enough to get this accomplishment so the fact that it happened in my hometown makes it all that more special. Not to downplay the Hall of Fame (induction). I had 100 people up there (in Toronto) and I can't imagine now getting to have all my friends and family, coaches and teammates at this. I'm looking forward to everything except the speech that day."

Chelios is a 2011 inductee of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Montreal Canadiens (1986) and Red Wings (2002, 2008) and three-time winner of the Norris Trophy (1988-89, 1992-93, 1995-96) voted as the top defenseman in the NHL. He had 948 points (185 goals, 763 assists) in 1,651 regular-season games for the Canadiens, Blackhawks, Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers, and 144 points (31 goals, 113 assists) in 266 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He ranks ninth in NHL history in regular-season games payed and first in playoff games.

"Although I played for those other teams, which I can't thank them enough also ... I never stopped being a Chicago Blackhawks fan," Chelios said. "When they won the Cups, I was a fan ... and I lived it just like a fan. Went to the parades. So, I never stopped being a Blackhawk fan throughout my career even though I was with the enemy, the big enemy, the Wings at one time which could have been a disaster for me because Chicago disowned me for a little bit and Detroit didn't accept me until I won that Cup as part of their family with them. ... It means the world to me."

Among United States-born defensemen in NHL history, Chelios is first in games played, third in assists and points, eighth in goals, tied for sixth in game-winning goals (31), seventh in power-play goals (69) and fourth in power-play points (407). He ranks first in goals, assists, points, games played and power-play points (60) in the postseason among United States-born skaters at his position. Chelios is tied for first in game-winning goals (six) and his 14 power-play goals rank second behind Brian Rafalski (17).

Chelios was named among the 100 Greatest NHL Players as part of the League's centennial celebration in 2017.

"We are thrilled to have Chris Chelios' number hang forever in the United Center rafters," Blackhawks president Jaime Faulkner said. "There is a lot to come for the organization as we celebrate achievements of the many great players who have worn the Blackhawks sweater. With our upcoming Centennial celebration during the 2025-26 season, plans to celebrate our alumni and additional jersey retirements will continue to emerge as we look forward to sharing that with our fans."