DETROIT – His hockey resume is beyond impressive: three Stanley Cup championships, 11 NHL All Star Game appearances, three Norris Trophy awards, an NCAA championship, and just for good measure, he was a three-time U.S. Olympic team captain.
Yet, Chris Chelios never really took the time to fully appreciate his hockey credentials. That is, until last week when he became just the 11th former hockey player inducted into the University of Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame.
“I never really thought about it while I was playing,” said Chelios, of receiving post-career accolades. “And now with this, and the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame coming up in December, I’ve started to reflect on everything. … Now with everybody reading my resume, I’m even impressed.”
Chelios, who was the 40th player – and just the 15th defenseman – selected in the 1981 NHL draft by Montreal, finished a 26-season pro career as the second-oldest player (behind Gordie Howe) in NHL history, and was the league’s all-time leading American in games played (1,651).
Chelios helped the Red Wings to a pair of Stanley Cup titles in 2002 and '08.
Though Chelios only skated with the Badgers for two seasons, he has an immediate impact on the hockey program, helping them reach the NCAA championship game in both years.
“I don’t think that I could have picked a better college,” said Chelios, who finished his UW career with 22 goals and 75 assists. “It was the whole school atmosphere; the campus, the lake, it’s just a beautiful campus. Everything that they said about going to university will be the best time of your life, they weren’t kidding.”
In 1982, the Badgers lost to North Dakota, 5-2, in the championship game at Providence Civic Center. But the following year, the Badgers returned to the finals where they defeated Harvard, 6-2, at Grand Forks, ND.
“We won the NCAA championship, and I was only there two years, so I feel real fortunate the way things played out there,” Chelios said.
Part of the Wisconsin induction included a ceremony where a plaque honoring Chelios’s collegiate accomplishments was unveiled outside of Camp Randall Stadium. The inductees also were introduced at halftime of Thursday’s football game.
“This is the first hall of fame that I’ve been inducted to with a plaque on the outside of Camp Randall; it’s pretty neat. It really is,” Chelios said. “Before, I never thought it was a big deal, but now it really is. It’s pretty hard to explain it in words about how you feel about being recognized, especially with Wisconsin since I only was there for two years.”