December 17 was Chris Chelios Night at the United Center, with the Blackhawks organization honoring the Chicago native and former Hawks captain. Chelios spent nine seasons with Chicago before a trade involving the Red Wings.
During a pre-game ceremony, with his family on the ice, a large smattering of boos rose above the United Center crowd.
“I thought it was unfortunate that they were booing him,” Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom
said on Wednesday. “He spent nine years there, and I thought he was their best player throughout that period. I thought they were going to show him more respect. Most of the crowd showed him that respect. There was a clique that booed him and I thought that was unfortunate, because he was an outstanding player when he played for him.”
Red Wings center Kris Draper said that Blackhawks’ fans should have remembered that while he was playing in Chicago, he was one of the Wings’ biggest challenges.
“As a friend and a teammate, especially with his wife and kids that were on the ice, you felt bad for him,” Draper said. “I don’t think a guy like Chris Chelios deserves it. He’s from Chicago, he’s proud of the fact that he’s a Chicago kid, he went on played for the Chicago Blackhawks, and a guy that competes and battles. When he played for Chicago against Detroit, he was a warrior – he went after everybody. He fought Steve (Yzerman), he did everything. It was something that certainly wasn’t deserved, with everything he’s accomplished, and he’s going to be a first-ballot hall-of-famer as well, so it was tough to watch.”
Draper said that the booing didn’t affect the Wings’ on-ice performance in the 4-1 loss, however.
“It’s Chicago vs. Detroit, you don’t need to get fired up anymore or anything like that,” Draper said. “We were glad to be a part of it, and, like I said, as teammates, we thought that he would have got a favorable reception. It’s unfortunate that that was the case.”