On Sunday evening, a sea of Chicago Blackhawks fans not only flooded the United Center to see the team play, but to honor the legacy of legendary player Chris Chelios as the team retired his jersey.
During the ceremony, 62-year-old Chelios said he couldn’t believe he was actually giving a speech at his own jersey retirement.
“It’s one thing, your jersey retires, and it’s another thing to do it in your hometown,” Chelios said.
Donning the #7, a Blackhawks banner ascended to new heights. Hall of Famer Chelios watched from below with family and friends as his jersey number officially retired.
It was announced back in September during a Pearl Jam concert as former Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz’s dying wish to retire Chelios’ jersey.
The South Side native spent nine seasons of his 26-season career with the Blackhawks, dominating for the team between 1990 and 1999.
His former teammates spoke about the legacy he left behind.
“It just goes to back to Chris’ competitive nature. He’s a beast,” said Tony Amonte, Chelios’ former Blackhawks teammate.
He was one of the longest tenured players in National Hockey League history and was known for being brutal on the ice as a defenseman. In fact, he played six seasons with a torn ACL.
“Strongest man, from his fingertips to his elbows, than anybody that I’ve ever seen in my life. He’s in better shape than most of the NHL guys here,” said Jeremy Roenick, another former teammate.
Blackhawks social media video showed some of his celebrity friends arriving, from Wayne Gretzky, who is considered the greatest ice hockey player ever, to model Cindy Crawford to former Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein to former Chicago Bulls player Dennis Rodman.
Michael Jordan, another Chicago legend, shared his remarks about his longtime friend’s achievement.
“You’re very deserving, and I’m very proud to see your jersey up there with my jersey,” Jordan said.
Chelios is the ninth Chicago player to have his jersey hanging in the rafters.