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Sports

'Made in America' Chris Chelios discusses his new memoir

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Look around the crowd at any Red Wings game. You’ll see plenty of fans wearing the #24 jersey, even though it’s been more than five years since Hall of Famer  Chris Chelios skated for the Wings.

Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock calls him “the greatest American player of all time.”

Now we learn what his storied career was like from Number 24 himself: Chris Chelios’ memoir is titled "Made In America." Listen to Chelios discuss his memoir below. 

Chelios says he started playing hockey because he loved it, not for any dreams of becoming a professional hockey player. The first time Chelios played was at a park two blocks away from his house in Southside Chicago.

Recalling lessons he learned from his father growing up, Chelios says that his dad wanted him to have a great work ethic, instilling it from an early age.

"He was hard on me," Chelios said of his father in critiquing his hockey playing as a child. 

Chelios says that the lessons he learned from his father have helped him raise his kids. When Chelios was still young, he and his family moved to San Diego, where his father hoped to have better luck in the restaurant business.

Chelios went to college in San Diego while still working at his father’s restaurant to help out his family. Chelios says that he didn’t want to work in the restaurant business and his father encouraged him to go to college to have more opportunities in life. Chelios notes that in spite of his initial reluctance to work in a restaurant, it has come full circle with his restaurant, Cheli’s Chili Bar in Detroit.

Chelios says his break into the NHL was a fluke - he was in the right place at the right time. The first NHL team Chelios played for, the Montreal Canadiens, is the most successful team in the history of the NHL. He says playing for the Canadiens is like getting a degree from Harvard in regards to hockey. The rich history of the program and the intensity of the fan base put a lot of pressure on Chelios.

Chelios says coming to Detroit from Chicago was an interesting situation, being a former enemy. “The word that comes to mind is comical," he said, describing his entrance into the Red Wings' locker room for the first time.

But Chelios says he couldn’t have been luckier for the fans and his teammates to accept him and to make Detroit his home.

Chelios said that the decision to stay in Detroit after retirement was a family one, as he had kids in high school at the time. It wasn’t always easy though, he said. He loves Chicago and being away was difficult when his parents, who live in there, had health scares.

He says he enjoyed working in Detroit’s front office, working on player development and learning how to coach.

“If I was to take a full time job, coaching is the way I’d go," he said.

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