Chris Chelios, D
Full stats after The Jump
How he came to Detroit: A former Stanley Cup and Norris Trophy winner in Montreal and a key gear in the Chicago defense, he came to Detroit by way of a trade in 1999 that sent Anders Eriksson and two first tround draft picks in exchange for Chris.
Impact of his stay: It would be near impossible to summarize the value that Chelios brought to Detroit in a short paragraph but Chelios was an immediate impact on the team and contributed to the defensive mindset of the club.
Highs in Motown: A stay in Detroit that long is hard to narrow down to a small list of his accomplishments. A short list of accomplishments though would include two Stanley Cup rings, a +40 rating in 2002 that led the league, every single season spent was a + in the +/- column, over 150 points, and oh yeah, two Cheli's Chili Bars. Chelios was a big part of the defense and gladly accepted mentoring responsibilities with young talent.
Lows in Motown: I can't really think of all too much that I can really criticize Chris for during his stay. He may have had some low offensive numbers but defensemen are often given leeway in that department. I suppose the only real low is that he is no longer a Red Wing.
Replaceable? The organization wouldn't have let Chelios go if they didn't think they had a better player waiting in the wings. The unexpectedly rapid maturation of Jonathan Ericsson has developed the situation where the Wings have several young options at the position and would like to keep them there at the expense of the vet. Chelios' numbers were becoming pedestrian but I don't think any of the young players can replace the leadership and experience he had.
Overall "Grade" for his stay: I think it would be ludicrous for me to award Chris with anything less than an "A". He was a stalwart on the blueline and when his skills started to waver in comparison to the developing young talent, he took things in good stride and quietly stepped aside for the better of the team. A great player statistically but probably more impressive was Chelios' selflessness and willingness to do whatever was best for the team.
In the end, Chris Chelios is one of the guys that I feel was truly a crucial asset to the team. He was one of many anchors on the defense and a big part of the Red Wings success throughout his stay. He continually took paycuts (and playing time cuts) to stay with the team and did everything that was asked of him by the coaching and higher ups. Like I said, once his skills were starting to be overmatched by the young guys and the additions of guys like Rafalski and Stuart, Cheli vacated his spot without the noise you'd expect from a guy with his resume. I know I'm not alone in saying that I wish Chris could/would stay but then again I can understand that he wants to still play consistently. I wish him the best of luck if he continues down the NHL path or a happy retirement if he decides that's best.
Let's hear your thoughts on the end of Chelios' career in Detroit.