Chilly return for Chelly

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:03 PM ET

CHICAGO -- There is no truth to the rumour that NHL dinosaur Chris Chelios, a Chicago-area native, is as old as venerable Wrigley Field.

Almost. But not quite.

Age jokes aside, Chelios, 46, used to come to Cub games at Wrigley as a kid with his dad. Now, less than a week after returning to the Detroit Red Wings lineup from a fractured tibia suffered during the pre-season, the NHL's elder statesman will have the opportunity to play hockey in that same 93-year-old venue.

A HATED WING

Of course, he will not get a warm reception when his Wings face off against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Winter Classic today. No player in the NHL is booed louder by Chicago fans than Chelios.

It doesn't matter that he grew up here, or that he played for the Blackhawks from 1990-99. He is a hated Wing now. That's all that matters.

"Great. Instead of (being jeered) by 16,000 people, there will be 41,000 people," Chelios said yesterday with a chuckle. "I'm just going to be happy if I can take the crowd out of the game."

He added that he has had requests "left and right" for tickets for the game.

"I always thought when they had the first outdoor game in Edmonton (in 2003), that they might have one of these in Chicago one day, either at Soldier Field or at Wrigley," Chelios said, moments after completing his first practice on the Wrigley ice sheet.

Asked about the ice, Chelios said there were some issues.

"It's so cold, the ice is chipping away," he said. "The sun might soften it out a bit. You could see guys tripping and stumbling out there, pucks were bouncing around ... What the heck! The ice is just as bad in L.A.

"It's going to be such a cool setting. You could tell on the bus ride over that the guys were excited, like little kids. Usually it's not like that when you are going to practice.

"New Year's is ruined. But I don't mind it being ruined for this game."


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