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Notebook: Chelios becomes second-oldest player

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – It was nearly this time last season that Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios first learned of Moe Roberts, a retired journeyman goalie, who suited up for the Chicago Blackhawks for one last time more than 56 years ago.

Roberts was an assistant trainer for the Blackhawks when goalie Harry Lumley was injured in a game against the Red Wings. Just 19 days shy of his 46th birthday, Roberts donned the goalie gear and finished the game.

Tonight, Chelios will pass Roberts as the second-oldest player in NHL history at 45 years and 348 days when the Wings host the Colorado Avalanche at Joe Louis Arena.

Entering Tuesday’s game, Chelios has logged 1,586 games in 23 ½ NHL seasons.

Chelios, who turns 46 on Jan. 25, naturally doesn’t feel as good as he did when he entered the league as a rookie with Montreal in 1983-84, but he doesn’t plan to set a timetable for retirement.
“Do I feel as good? No,” said Chelios with a good laugh. “But I feel good enough. I haven’t had anything significant or chronic, so I feel good. … As good as I’m gonna feel.”

Wings legend Gordie Howe holds the distinction of being the oldest player in league history, having played his final game on April 6, 1980. Howe was 52 years and six days.

For Chelios to pass Howe, means the three-time Norris Trophy winner would have to still be playing on Feb. 1, 2014.

“We’ll see,” said Chelios, who is older than seven current NHL coaches. “I don’t want to say something then jinks myself. For the time being, just don’t think about it and keep going. As long as we’re winning, it gives me a chance to keep playing.”

Asked about his longevity, he added, “It’s lucky and being very fortunate, and being in the right place at the right time. I don’t think I’m going to attributive it to the sauna. That helps me from not getting colds and the flu. It’s just lucky.

RETURNING WINGS: Forwards Tomas Holmstrom (knee) and Kirk Maltby (lower back) plan to be back in the Wings’ lineup tonight against Colorado.

For the second time this season, Holmstrom has been sidelined with a knee injury. The most recent problem had him out of the lineup since Dec. 22.

Before suffering a lower back injury on Nov. 27, Maltby had been the Wings’ ironman over the previous six seasons, missing only six regular-season games during that time.

“I’m going to kind of treat it like a first game of the season type of thing,” Maltby said. “Hopefully, knock on wood, no setbacks or anything during the course of this week.”
As is with most back injuries, a big key for Maltby will be how he feels the day after.

“It’s like the first few days after practice,” he said. “But this will be a little more intense. There will be more contact and physical play, so it will be how it feels and how it response tomorrow.”

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