CHICAGO — It’s a rare honor for any member of the Blackhawks, but the way that Chris Chelios got the news on Thursday night was even more unique.
The Chicago native and Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman was told during a Pearl Jam concert at the United Center that his No. 7 will be retired by the team in his honor during the 2023-2024 season.
Lead singer Eddie Vedder brought Chelios on stage and let him know that his number would be raised to the rafters, saying that it was one of the last wishes of late Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz before his death in July.
After the concert, the Blackhawks announced that the jersey retirement will take place on Sunday, February 25 at the United Center when they host the Red Wings.
“We are entering a new era of Blackhawks hockey on the ice, but the importance of honoring past members of this organization is, and always will be, a priority,” said Blackhawks chairman and CEO Danny Wirtz in a statement Thursday night. “Chris Chelios represents not only the Blackhawks, but, given his roots here, the city of Chicago. Rocky wanted Chris to be the next Blackhawk to have his jersey retired and would have loved to see this moment.
“We look forward to celebrating Chris’ career in February with his family, friends, and sharing it all with Blackhawks fans.”
Chelios is the ninth member of the Blackhawks to have his number retired as he joins an elite group of players in franchise history.
- Glenn Hall – No. 1
- Pierre Pilote – No. 3
- Keith Magnusson – No. 3
- Bobby Hull – No. 9
- Denis Savard – No. 18
- Stan Mikita – No. 21
- Tony Esposito – No. 35
- Marian Hossa – No. 81
During his 26-year NHL career, Chelios spent 8 1/2 with the Blackhawks after being traded to the team in 1990 from Montreal in the deal that sent Denis Savard to the Canadiens. During his time in Chicago, he won the Norris Trophy for best defenseman twice (1992-1993, 1995-1996) and was named an All-Star eight times.
Chelios helped the Blackhawks to playoff appearances in his first seven seasons with the team, including the President’s Trophy in 1990-1991 and the Stanley Cup Final in 1991-1992. He finished with 92 goals and 395 assists in 664 regular season games for the team.
For his NHL career, which included time with the Canadiens (7 seasons), Red Wings (9 1/2 seasons), and Thrashers (1 season), Chelios had 185 goals and 763 assists in 1,651 games. In 2013, the defenseman was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Before his time in professional hockey, Chelios played part of his prep career at Mount Carmel High School before moving to California. He would play with the Moose Jaw Canucks of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League where the defenseman was drafted by Montreal in 1981.
Chelios would then play two seasons with the Wisconsin Badgers, leading the team to the national championship in 1983.
After the completion of his playing career, Chelios has had front office roles with the Red Wings along with a few television commentary jobs. In 2018, he was named a team ambassador for the Blackhawks, a role he still serves today.