Athletes Then & Now: Chris Chelios

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As 48-year-old Chris Chelios gets ready to lace up the skates for the Thrashers, we look back at 1984, when the 22-year-old defenseman was a rookie trying to make it in the NHL.

Fresh from the Winter Olympics in 1984, 22-year-old Chris Chelios skated into his first full season on professional ice. The immensely talented defenseman earned slots in the NHL All-Star Game and on the All-Rookie Team, then he helped the Montreal Canadiens snatch the Stanley Cup in 1986. He spent the rest of the decade with the team, beginning the 1990's with the Chicago Blackhawks, who made it to the Finals in 1992 (their first such visit since 1973). He was traded to the Detroit Red Wings seven years later.

Two Stanley Cups heavier during Chelios' tenure, Detroit declined to re-up the veteran last year, seemingly ending his professional career. Undaunted, Chelios went with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. This week their NHL parent club, the Atlanta Thrashers, turned heads by signing the 48-year-old, although general manager Don Waddell told that the plan was to keep him running with the Wolves for now. Chelios was reflective. "It's been a good year [with the Wolves]," he said, "and if this is where it ends, it's been a good time." Let's see: four-time Olympian, three-time Norris Trophy winner, three Stanley Cups, 11 NHL All-Star appearances to go along with 185 goals and 763 assists in 1,644 games. Yup -- a good time by any measure.

(Created by: Video: Check out Chelios in Who is the all-time greatest NHL player?SI Vault: Chelios shows his softer side as a parent (1.8.90) SI Vault: At 40, Chelios giving Detroit the toughness they need (5.27.02)SI Vault:The Chris Chelios workout (9.17.07)