TORONTO - On a night where “thank you” was repeated a thousand times, Chris Chelios wrote a heavy note of apology into his speech.
Near the end of a gracious acceptance as the first of five inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night, the hard-hitting, plainspoken defenceman said his one regret was being part of two of the three NHL lockouts.
“Nobody won,” said Chelios, who would have been even closer to Gordie Howe in the longevity department had 2004-05 not been scrubbed. “Players, fans, everybody suffered. The worst thing was what happened with the relationships with my teammates and players throughout the league (who showed cracks in unity as the disputes dragged on).
“It’s politics, it’s business, I understand that, but I apologize.”
Chelios did recognize deposed union head Bob Goodenow’s administration and the old guard of the NHLPA, including pioneers Ted Lindsay and Carl Brewer, who “sacrificed a lot to make it good for us.”