AT 45 CHRIS CHELIOS is the oldest noncoach in the NHL, and he has played in more postseasons (22) and more postseason games (234 through Sunday) than anyone ever. Some other Cheliosian numbers: 11 All-Star Games, three Norris Trophies, two Stanley Cups—and 2,843 penalty minutes. At 6'1" and 190 pounds of bottled fury, Chelios still logs heavy ice time on the formidable Red Wings defense. Top-seeded Detroit knocked off the Flames to get to the second round, and however long its playoff run, don't expect Chelios's legacy to end there. He says he'll play until he's 50. No one's arguing.
On postseason hockey
It's a step faster. The first round is really tough—very physical, very straining compared with a regular-season game. Gradually, you start to feel better as you get deeper into the playoffs. The further you go, the more momentum you get.
On his reputation as an ornery guy
I have a face that people just don't like. I'm 45, but people still scream at me in bars and restaurants. My dad said if he ever saw me walk into a bar, he'd want to beat the snot out of me too.
On his favorite era
I'm a '70s guy. I like the music, the clothes, the way hockey was played and the camaraderie that the players had. They were closer-knit, more team-oriented and didn't have so many outside interests distracting them.
On the NHL's lockout year
I did everything I ever wanted to do but couldn't because of hockey. I went to Costa Rica, Russia, Hawaii. I snorkeled. I raced sailboats. I bobsledded in World Cup events. Bobsledding was the best—a one-minute adrenaline rush.
On his hockey education
As a teenager I got cut from a couple of teams. Fortunately, I don't have an ego. At Moose Jaw [in the Western Hockey League], I was asked, "What position do you play?" I said, "What do you need?" I just got the puck, and I went.
On his resistance to technology
I discourage my kids [he has four with wife Susan] from playing video games. I'd rather have them playing hockey or moving. For 10 years I held out against getting a cellphone. Now I'm an addict. But I still don't have e-mail.
On protecting himself
I keep an aluminum baseball bat by my bed and in pretty much every room of my house. If a burglar ever got in, he'd get met with a full-fledged Billy Williams swing. When you have kids, you start thinking like that.
On a family excursion
When I was a kid, my family moved to Australia because my dad had a crazy idea for supplying our troops in Vietnam with food. Within [a short time] the war ended, and he was stuck Down Under with his thumb up his [butt], so we moved back to Chicago.
On living in Malibu
The worst thing is the insincerity of the summer residents—everybody's always suing each other. Malibu is full of crazy people, but Dick Butkus is a neighbor of mine. The first time he came over, he sat on my couch, grunted at my wife and stared at my kids, who were in awe and scared s—less at the same time.
On the afterlife
I'd like to die fast and painlessly at a hockey rink. I'll watch a game, have a heart attack and go. Then I want my body to be frozen and stored off I-290 in Chicago. Overhead will be a neon sign flashing my NHL numbers, 24 and 7, nonstop.
PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRIS CHELIOS
DAVID E. KLUTHO (CHELIOS PLAYING)