Zawaski: Chelios Should Stay In Detroit

By Jay Zawaski–

Friday night, the Blackhawks will honor former Hawk captain, All-Star, and Norris Trophy winner Chris Chelios. It’s a no brainer, right? He was a well respected captain, an All Star, a local kid made good, and perhaps the best American born player ever. It just makes sense to honor him. Right?

No. For all he achieved as a Blackhawk, Chelios has made his choice. He’s a Red Wing, and he’s happy to be a Red Wing.

They can have him.

In March 1999, Chelios did what he swore to Mike North he’d never do…play for the Red Wings. Yes, the argument can be made that he had no choice, and was strong armed by the Hawks to take the trade. OK, that’s fine. We’ll let THAT violation slide.

Fast forward to his ten seasons in Detroit (he only played nine in Chicago). Cheli won two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. Whenever he’d get his day with the Cup, he seemed to take pleasure in bringing the Cup “home” to Chicago, and rubbing it in the faces of Hawk fans. Sure, maybe Tom and Jane Cub fan wants to see the shiny Cup at Wrigley, but to REAL Hawks fans, the ones who hold the Cup in the regard in which it should be held, it was a slap in the face. It was a hated rival rubbing it in our faces. He knew it, and did it with a smile.

Not enough? Ok. At the home opener of the 2000-01 season, the Blackhawks honored their 75th Anniversary team. All the Hawk greats were there, including Chelios, who was competing against the Hawks in the game that night. When the Anniversary team lined up for a team photo, Chelios refused to hold up his Hawk sweater, forever ruining what should have been a classic photograph for Hawk fans. Try to find that photo in a souvenir shop now. You can’t.

Why? Because no Hawk fans wants that hated Winged Wheel in their basement.

Now, Chelios works in the Red Wing’s front office. Call it sour grapes, call it what you want. Over the last decade plus, I’ve learned to hate Chris Chelios. Maybe it’s because I never left the UC, like so many others did. Maybe it hurt too much to see the “quintessential Blackhawk” enjoy his time with the team I hated so much. Whatever it is, he got what he wanted.

He’s a Detroit Red Wing. Let him stay there. Enjoy the Motor City Chris. It’s all yours.

More from Jay Zawaski
  • Jon, Montgomery

    totally agree jay. you have such great thoughts on the hawks. and you fully show here why I share that chelios should be considered a red wing. the Blackhawks shouldn’t honor him tonight.

    I bet he goes over to the red wings bench to shake hands with their players. god

  • Dennis

    Yeah! get the HE double hockey sticks outta here . And his Chili sucks also.

  • Matt Knight

    According to this logic Eddie Olczyk should not have been honored by Blackhawk fans or by the organization. Eddie O played more games with the Winnipeg Jets, he won a Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers, and he coached the Pittsburgh Penguins.

    There was absolutely no arrogance when Cheli brought the cup to the students at Mount Carmel High School, half of the students didn’t even know the NHL had a team in Chicago during the 2000s. As far a Cheli knew bringing the cup to Chicago was the closest any Chiagoin would get to the cup as long as Bill Wirtz was running the show.

    Don’t forget about Chelios hockey camps he continued to run for kids in the south suburbs long after he left Chicago.

    I feel bad for Chelios and all the other Blackhawks, like Amonte, Daze, Smith, Probert and Suter who lost so much precious time playing for the Blackhawks, who were at that time considered the worst organization in sports.

    For those of us who wonder how to react to Cheli tonight just follow the lead of Pat Foley, the biggest Blackhawks fan of all time, who was also given the shaft by the Blackhawks in the same way that Cheli was.

    At the very least Chei is the greatest American defenceman of all time and hawk fans should honor him for that.

    Go Hawks
    Cheers to Cheli

  • G-Mo82

    is it ok to be 50/50 ?
    Jay makes some good points, from the stand point of a fan who got kicked in the noots.


    matt makes sense too, Eddie O is a beloved figure.
    Following Folz is a good idea but do you think he would elude to anything negative ?


    let’s just root for a hawks win tonight

  • Beverly Brewmaster

    I see both sides of the argument, so to me the tiebreaker is the fact that everybody I know who’s ever run into him (and living in Beverly that’s quite a few people) says he was nothing but a complete Deutsch Bank. That’s enough reason for me to side with the “Stay in Detroit!” crowd.

  • Commonly Sensical

    I reached for a gun after reading this. Thankfully, it wasn’t loaded…

  • mike


    i question your knowledge of hockey after reading this. he was THE leader on a team gutted by ownership. forwards were drilling him night in/night out after a good team had been dismantled. why should he stay when ownership didn’t care about winning?

  • Pat

    What a terrible article!!!! The owner was cheap and did not want to pay! Could you explain why he also let Roenick and Belfour go?

  • Eddie Shack

    I wonder how many Blackhawk fans have fallen off the wagon since the championship like they have over the years?

  • Commonly Sensical

    Jay, a “winged wheel” (what the…) should fly down and run your keyboard over! STOP WRITING!!

  • commonly Sensical

    Hahahaha, I meant to say that the “winged wheel” should fly down and run OVER your keyboard, then it should back up and do it again while it’s there, ya know…

    Woo-hoo, idiots RULE!

  • Jase

    Landon Donanvan inspired many americans to play his sport. Chelios was kind of a yawner even when he was at his prime. Who cared really ? Roenick was a much, much more popular Hawk. At least his was passionate….He might be the least exciting hall of famer in the history of Chicago sports.

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