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Red Wings Bring Back Chelios

May 31, 2006

DETROIT (AP) _ The NHL’s oldest player has at least another season in him.

Chris Chelios signed a one-year contract Wednesday with the Detroit Red Wings. He will be a 45-year-old defenseman next year in the middle of his eighth season with the team and 23rd in the league.

The three-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman played in 81 games last season and had a plus-22 rating.

``Chris proved this past season that he can still play at a very high level,″ Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

Holland said he spoke to Steve Yzerman on Wednesday, but does not know whether the 40-year-old captain will re-sign with the team or retire.

``I talked to him briefly today, and we’re going to try to meet in the next week or so,″ Holland said. ``He’s obviously making a career decision, and I want him to take all the necessary time he needs to make a decision that he’s comfortable with.

``We could wait till July 1 when you can sign unrestricted free agents, but for planning purposes, it would be good to know his plans before the draft in June 24,″ Holland said.

Chelios, who was born Jan. 25, 1962, will definitely be back.

He has 925 career points in 1,476 regular-season games, and 137 points in 228 playoff games. The 11-time All-Star helped Montreal win the Stanley Cup in 1986, and was a key player for the Red Wings when they won the title in 2002.

At the Turin Games, Chelios and Keith Tkachuk became the first four-time Olympians in U.S. hockey history. Chelios was a captain for the third straight Winter Games, and became the third-oldest player in Olympic hockey history.

``I never thought I’d be playing at this age, but now I can’t imagine being done,″ Chelios said last winter.

He won the Norris Trophy in 1996, ’93 and ’89, and finished second when Detroit won the Stanley Cup four years ago and in 1995.

Montreal drafted him in the second round of the 1981 NHL draft, and he spent his first seven seasons with the Canadiens. Chelios played for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1990-99 before joining the Red Wings.

Chelios has such a passion for hockey _ and an aversion to sitting still _ he played for the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League last year during the NHL lockout.

The Red Wings also signed three draft picks _ Evan McGrath, Jonathan Ericsson and Stephan Liv _ to entry-level contracts.

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