This is going to be one of those things that people look back at in ten years and say, “really? Chris Chelios finished his career in Atlanta?” Yes, friend, he did. He was 48 years old. And yes, Atlanta used to have an NHL team. Twice, in fact. And both times, they lost their franchise to cities in Western Canada – Calgary, then Winnipeg. Take whatever you like from that.
Now, just to add some perspective to this, Chelios was not the oldest player ever to suit up in an NHL game. That honour belongs to Gordie Howe, who played in the NHL until he was 52. Fifty-two. It might not sound like that big a difference, but consider this: the Detroit Red Wings published a story in January of 2008 when Chelios, then playing for the Wings, became the second oldest NHL player ever, a few weeks before his 46th birthday. In order to eclipse Howe, the story says, Chelios would have had to play until February, 2014 – another six years from that point. Chelios was able to eke out a couple more years of pro hockey, including most of 2009-10 in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves, but 52 was still a long way off. People say Gretzky’s 50 in 39 might be the toughest record to break, but I’ll bet that one gets broken before someone else plays in the NHL at 52.
I’ll bet Atlanta gets another team before then too.