Career in Cards: Chris Chelios

Last week, the Chicago Blackhawks honored former player and legend Chris Chelios with a pregame ceremony. Chelios retired in August, capping off a remarkable 27-year professional career that spanned from 1984 to 2010.

Chelios is my all-time favorite player. A defensive stalwart, he could help offensively too. He was rugged and would fight. Seemingly, there wasn’t anything Chelios couldn’t do…except take a night off. The man never quit, even when he was well into his forties and twice as old as many of the men he was playing against.

Now that Cheli has retired–or more appropriately, now that I have come to grips with his retirement–I thought it would be a good time to take a look back at his career…but with rectangular pieces of cardboard as the visuals.

Get comfortable…this is gonna take a while.

College & Amateur (1981-1984)

1993 Classic Draft Picks

1981-82 & 1982-83 – Chelios played college hockey for the University of Wisconsin (WCHA). In his first season of college hockey, Chelios was named the league’s rookie of the year. In his second season, he was named both a Second Team All-Star and to the All-Tournament Team.

1995-96 Donruss Pro Pointers (detail)

1984 Winter Olympics – Chelios played for the United States Olympic Team, skating alongside future NHLers Pat Lafontaine, Ed Olczyk and Al Iafrate. After the Olympics, Chelios turned pro.

Pro Career Part 1: Montreal (1984-90)

End of the 1983-84 season – Chelios made his NHL debut on March 8, 1984. He played in 12 regular season games and 16 playoff games for the Montreal Canadiens.

September 1984 – Although he was still considered a rookie by NHL standards, Chelios was good enough to play for Team USA in the Canada Cup tournament.

1984-85 O-Pee-Chee (RC)

1984-85 – In his first full season in the NHL, Chelios would appear in the NHL All-Star Game and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. He was the Calder Trophy runner-up to Mario Lemieux. With 64 points, Chelios led all Montreal defenders in scoring.

1985-86 Topps

1985-86 – Chelios won his first Stanley Cup Championship with the Montreal Canadiens.

1993-94 Upper Deck Gretzky’s Great Ones

1986-87 – In his third full season, Chelios  represented the NHL in the Rendez-vous ’87, a two-game series that replaced the All-Star Game. The tournament pitted the best NHL players against the best Soviet Union players.

1986-87 O-Pee-Chee

September 1987 – Chelios played for Team USA in the Canada Cup Tournament.

1987-88 Topps

1987-88 – Chelios was again was the top scoring defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens with 61 points.

1988-89 Topps

1988-89 – Chelios was the top-scoring d-man on Montreal a third time. He won his first Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman and was named a First Team All-Star.

1989-90 Panini Stickers (Award Winners)

1989-90 – Chelios was named co-captain of the Montreal Canadiens. In an injury-shortened season, he  would still play in his second All-Star Game.

1990-91 Pro Set (All-Star Game)

June 29, 1990 – Chelios was traded (along with a 2nd round draft pick) to the Chicago Blackhawks for Denis Savard

1989-90 Kraft

Pro Career Part 2: Chicago (1990-99)

1990-91 Pro Set Series II

1990-91 –  In Chelios’ first season with the Blackhawks, he was voted as a starter in the 1991 NHL All-Star Game, which was held in Chicago. He was also named a Second Team All-Star, was the top scorer among Chicago defenseman and helped the team to a first-overall finish with 106 points.

1995 Globe

September 1991 – Chelios played in his third Canada Cup, and was named to the tournament’s All-Star Team.

1991-92 McDonald’s Holograms

1991-92 – Chelios would again be named a starter in the NHL All-Star Game. For a second season in a row, he would top all Chicago defenseman in scoring.

1992-93 Score Dream Team (American)

1992-93 – The 1992-93 season was one of Chelios’ best. He was second overall in team scoring with 73 points and won his second Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman. He was voted a starter in the NHL All-Star Game, and was named a First-Team All-Star at season’s end.

1992-93 Parkhurst

1993-94 – In his fourth season with the Blackhawks, Chelios was voted as a starter in the NHL All-Star Game for a fourth consecutive time. He’d also finish third on the team in scoring, with 60 points.

1993-94 Donrusss Ice Kings

Fall 1994 – The 1994-95 season was delayed by a 103-day lockout. During that time, Chelios played  in an NHLPA-sponsored “4-on-4” charity tournament. He also played for Biel in the Swiss-A League.

1995-96 Post

1995 – There was no All-Star Game during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, but Chelios would score 33 points in 48 games and was named a First Team All-Star.

1994-95 Upper Deck

1995-96 – It was another standout year for Chris Chelios. He was named the Blackhawks team captain. He also led the team in scoring with 72 points. For a fifth consecutive time, he was voted as a starter in the NHL All-Star Game. At the end of the season, he was named a First Team All-Star and was awarded the Norris Trophy as the league’s top d-man.

1995-96 Summit

September 1996 – Chelios represented the United States in the first World Cup of Hockey, helping Team USA win the gold medal. He was also named to the tournament’s All-Star team.

1996-97 Topps Picks Fantasy Team

1996-97 – Chelios topped all Chicago defenseman with 48 points. For the sixth time in a row, he is voted as a starter in the All-Star Game, and serves as the captain of the Western Conference team. He is also named a Second Team All-Star at season’s end.

1996-97 Bicycle Hockey Aces

1997-98 – For the first time in 28 years, the Chicago Blackhawks would miss the playoffs. Still, Chelios would continue to be one of the bright spots for the ‘Hawks. Though not a starter, Chelios played in his 8th consecutive All-Star Game.

1997-98 Donruss Canadian Ice

1998 Winter Olympics – During the Winter Olympics, he was the team captain for the United States.

1997-98 Donruss Studio

1998-99 – This was the last year Chelios played for the Blackhawks. From what I recollect, Chelios wanted to play 2 more years then retire as a Blackhawks. But the ‘Hawks had no intention of re-signing him, and traded him away.

1998-99 Pacific Dynagon Ice Team Checklists

March 23, 1999 – Chris Chelios was traded to the Detroit Red Wing for Anders Eriksson and two 1st round draft picks.

1998-99 Collector’s Choice Bobbing Heads

At this point,I stopped being a Blackhawks fan for a long time. My favorite player of all-time–the heart-and-soul of the team–was traded to the ‘Hawks biggest rival.

1998-99 Pacific Crown Royale

Pro Career Part 3: Detroit (1999-2009)

1999-2000 Pacific Crown Royale

1998-99 (continued) -Chelios is now with the Red Wings. Most people thought that he’d “hang ’em up” after another season or two…but Cheli had other ideas.

1999-2000 Upper Deck Retro

1999-2000 – Chelios plays in the All-Star Game for the 10th time. Though no longer the “go-to” guy he was with the Blackhawks, Chelios puts up a respectable 34 points. He still played with an edge–his 103 penalty minutes were 3rd on the team.

2000-01 Pacific Aurora

2000-01 – Injuries would limit Chelios to 24 games.

2000-01 Upper Deck Vintage

2001-02 – Cheli would experience a career renaissance during the 2001-02 season. He appeared in his 11th (and final) All-Star Game. Afterward, the NHL would go on hiatus for the 2002 Olympics.

2002-03 Be A Player All-Star Edition

2002 Winter Olympics – Again, Chelios would captain Team USA in the Winter Olympic Games. The United States won silver, and Chelios was named to the tournament’s All-Star Team.

2002-03 Topps Heritage

2001-02 (continued) – Chelios would continue to have an amazing season. At 40 years of age, he led the NHL in plus/minus with a +40 rating. He was named a First Team All-Star. And he won his 2nd Stanley Cup Championship.

2002-03 Be A Player First Edition

2002-03 – Chelios’ 20th year in the NHL. Despite several injuries, he played in 66 games.

2003-04 Topps

2003-04 – More injuries would limit Chelios, but he still played in 69 games.

 2006-07 In The Game

Summer 2004 – Chelios captained Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.

2004-05 Upper Deck World’s Best

2004-05 – During the NHL lockout, Chelios played for the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League.

2005-06 Parkhurst

2005-06 – Chelios played in 81 games in the 2005-06 season. At 43 years of age, he was one of the more aggressive players on the team, leading the Red Wings with 108 penalty minutes.

2005-06 Fleer Ultra

2006 Winter Olympics – Chelios played in his 4th Winter Olympics. For the third time, he captained Team USA.

2006-07 Upper Deck

2006-07 – Chelios won the Mark Messier Leadership Award for both his on-ice leadership and his off-ice charitable activities. He is the first-ever person to win this award. He also became the oldest defenseman to score a short-handed goal.

2007-08 O-Pee-Chee

2007-08 – At 45 years of age, Chelios became the second-oldest person to play in an NHL game. He also broke the record for most playoff games played when he skated in his 248th postseason contest. That season, the Red Wings won the Stanley Cup–Chelios’s 3rd championship.

2008-09 Upper Deck

2008-09 – In his last year with the Red Wings, Chelios saw limited action and was sent to the minors for the first time in his career. He played 2 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins. That made him the oldest player (46) in the history of the American Hockey League.

2008-09 O-Pee-Chee Rainbow Parallel

Pro Career Part 4: The Final Season (2009-10)

2009-10 Chicago Wolves Team Issue

2009-10 – Chelios signs with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. For the first time in over a decade, he plays hockey for a Chicago team, albeit in the minor leagues. Later in the season, he signs a 2-way contract with the Atlanta Thrashers. He goes scoreless in 7 games, and the Thrashers miss the playoffs. Chelios then finishes the season with the Chicago Wolves.

2010-11 Score

August 31, 2010 – After a 27-year pro career, Chris Chelios retires and is named Executive Adviser to the General Manager for the Detroit Red Wings.

Chelios probably would have liked to have played another season or two. But looking at his accomplishments, surely he does not have any regrets, and will be a lock to make the Hall of Fame when he first becomes eligible in 2013.

1991-92 Pro Set Platinum (back, detail)



Author: Sal Barry

Sal Barry is the editor and webmaster of Puck Junk. He is a freelance hockey writer, college professor and terrible hockey player. Follow him on Twitter @puckjunk

7 thoughts on “Career in Cards: Chris Chelios”

  1. The Chelios Wolves card came in a team set that was limited to 5,000.

    Not sure about Thrashers cards, though. He's not in Victory or Upper Deck Series 1. The Highlight card is the only Score card he is on.

  2. That was an amazing post… I've always admired Chelios… but I'm considering starting a small Chelios PC after reading this. Hockey @ 48? That's just crazy.

  3. Thanks, Fuji.

    I will send you some Chelios cards. I'm pretty sure I have your address from a previous contest or giveaway.

    I've accumulated many doubles of Chelios cards by accidentally buying the same card twice. Happens more than I care to admit.

  4. This is the first time I read your blog. "Career in Cards" is a very good idea and definitely adds the value of base cards. Very inspiring.

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