Chelios to Wings’ front office, Kronwall to surgery

Chris Chelios is officially retiring from the NHL and moving to a position in the Detroit Red Wings’ front office. At the same time, Niklas Kronwall is having knee surgery to tie up some loose ends (maybe not literally).

At noon today, the Detroit Red Wings’ held a press conference to announce that defenseman Chris Chelios will retire from the NHL and head to the Red Wings’ front office as an Adviser to Hockey Operations. Basically, he’ll be working with the coach staffs to provide insight on topics and help mentor the young players rising through the organization. The Red Wings also announced that he will assist on the business-side of things, appearing at games and other functions possibly outside of Joe Louis Arena. Fans who attend games fairly regularly know that you can usually spot older players like Ted Lindsay behind a booth, signing books and such. Chelios may not do exactly that, but it may be something along those lines.

This is just another step in Chelios’s long, exciting hockey career. He started in Montreal in 1984 and played seven seasons with the Canadiens, securing a Norris Trophy and a Stanley Cup in that time before being traded to Chicago in 1990, where he spent nine seasons. While with the Blackhawks, he played in 664 regular season games and 65 postseason games and helped the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1992, their first appearance in the Finals since 1973. He was traded to the Red Wings in March of 1999 and added a third Stanley Cup ring to his collection in 2008.

The Red Wings always find a place for those aging players, whether it’s a spot on the roster or a spot in the front office. Chelios was a staple on the Red Wings’ lineup from 1999 until 2009. His hiring into the front office is following in the footsteps of the likes of Steve Yzerman and Jiri Fischer. Yzerman was given a job in the front office and, unable to move up any further in the front office due to the likes of general manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill not ready to retire just yet, took the job as the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s general manager.

Jiri Fischer, however, isn’t as infamous as Yzerman. After suffering from serious cardiac distress and collapsing into convulsions on the Red Wings’ bench during a game on November 21, 2005, Fischer had to retire. The Red Wings gave him a front-office role as the Director of Player Development, which is basically a liaison between the team and the prospects in junior and college hockey as well as ones over in Europe.

It’s always nice to see the Red Wings bring back their old players to help bring up the younger ones, both off and on the ice.

In other Red Wings news, it was reported today that defenseman Niklas Kronwall had athroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning. Last November, he suffered a knee-to-knee hit from Georges Laraque on Montreal. Because of the severity of the hit, Laraque was suspended for five games; Kronwall missed 30 games of the season and was never back to his usual self. Thanks to the surgery, doctors realized that he had a lateral meniscus tear that was causing his discomfort.

Ken Holland is optimistic that Kronwall will be at training camp on September 18. This is a major relief to Red Wings fans everywhere who hung on throughout all of the injuries last season. Starting without Kronwall would not be the ideal start to a new season.

Christina Roberts
Detroit Red Wings correspondent
Twitter: @franzenmuth