Chris Chelios played an unbelievable 26 years in the NHL, 8+ with my beloved Blackhawks. That career, ended after the 2009-10 season with the Atlanta Thrashers, earned him an enshrinement into the Hall of Fame.
Prior to his NHL career, Chelios was an outstanding prep player. He even played at Mt. Carmel, my alma mater. It's a long-running joke among my friends that no other duo of Mt. Carmel alums played as many games as Cheli and I. Together we played 1,651 games in the NHL. Of course, I played none, but that doesn't get in the way of a (bad) joke.
Actually, Cheli didn't attend Mt. Carmel for long. Despite him being 3 years older than me, we weren't even there at the same time. I think he played his freshamn year at MC, before the family moved to the west coast.
Despite his Chicago roots and his time playing for the Hawks, I had never met Cheli until last year at The National. He looked to still be in playing shape, despite being 55 years old.
I mentioned our MC connection (but not the bad joke). We talked a bit about his son Jake (then playing defense in the AHL) and daughter Caley (a sports reporter in Tampa).
It was a thrill to meet Cheli. Because of ages and proximity, I really followed Cheli's career for more than 30 years. (How had he really escaped me until then?)
Chris Chelios and me in Rosemont, IL-August 2017.