|Former Red Wings defenseman and Hockey Hall of Fame member, Chris Chelios met with fans and signed copies of his new autobiography "Chris Chelios: Made in America" on Friday night during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. (Alex DiFilippo/Detroit Red Wings)
DETROIT — Bob and Julie Gilboe came to Joe Louis Arena with a purpose.
On Friday night, Red Wings fans had the opportunity to meet Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Chelios and purchase an autographed copy of “Chris Chelios: Made in America” on the JLA concourse. The Gilboes came from the arena doors and straight to the front of the line to meet Chelios and buy a copy of the book.
Julie said, “We’re 20-game season ticket holders and Bob has always been a fan of Chris Chelios even when he played for the other teams we love to hate.”
Bob added, “I remember hating him when he was with Chicago and becoming an instant fan of him when he signed with Detroit.”
The chance to meet Chelios was not limited to just Wings fans, as many visiting Chicago Blackhawks fans also waited in line to get their autographed copy. Chelios spent 18 of his 26 NHL seasons with the Wings and Blackhawks and is cherished by fans on both sides of the rivalry.
“Well there’s been a little hate from a few people but for the most part it’s been great,” Chelios said. “I didn’t purposely pick Chicago but I’m glad it was that. There’s a lot of great friends from Chicago that made the trip. Now that we’re in the east and they’re in the west we don’t get a chance to see them as often. I’ve even seen some guys that I played with when I was a pee-wee.”
Among the visiting Blackhawks fans in attendance for the game was Gabriel Tijerina who admitted he wasn’t much of a reader but when he saw Chelios’ autobiography, he just had to have it.
“We always come to the Detroit Red Wings game,” Tijerina said. “We always come to see Cheli because he’s a Chicago guy even though he’s with the Red Wings.”
From the 1992 Stanley Cup finals to the 2006 Winter Olympics team, Chelios shares his achievements on the ice while providing new information on his life off of the ice as well. The autobiography provides a unique opportunity, especially for Wings fans to read about Chelios’ first-hand account of his time spent in Hockeytown with teammates like Steve Yzerman, Nicklas Lidstrom and coach Scotty Bowman.
“After I got inducted into the Hall of Fame and had all of my friends — at least 100 of them there — I thought it’d be a great idea,” Chelios said. “People asked me over the course of the years, just the story of how I made it and where I came from and to acknowledge all the people who helped me make it. My friends, my family, my coaches, my teammates, et cetera. So far, the most gratifying thing is the people seeing their names in the books and being a part of my life.”
Following his appearance at The Joe, Chelios will also make a stop in Grand Rapids at the Griffins game on Saturday night. A similar book signing opportunity will take place at Van Andel Arena before the Griffins game against the Texas Stars.
Chelios is a three-time Stanley Cup champion — once with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 and twice with the Wings in 2002 and 2008 — and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2013. He holds numerous NHL records including the most games played by a defenseman (1,651 games) and is the only player in NHL history to play more than 400 games for three different teams. Chelios won three Norris Trophies as the NHL’s best defenseman, made 11 NHL All-Star Game appearances and represented Team USA at four Olympic Winter Games. He currently serves as the advisor to hockey operations for the Red Wings.
“There’s no bitterness at all,” Chelios said. “There’s no animosity towards anybody. I did explain why what happened in Chicago when I got traded. I kinda wanted to get it off my chest. I explained the falling outs during the player’s association events and the politics. Then, of course, I’m hoping kids can get out of this, see that you face adversity in life and there’s ups and downs and if you’re in the right place at the right time and you work hard, hopefully you get lucky.”