Red Wings' Chris Chelios talks about fighting, steroids in hockey and hot goalies December 18, 2007
Red Wings defensemen appeared on WDFN 1130 am Friday. Here a portion of the Q & A.
Things couldn’t be better for the Wings right now could they?
It’s been a good stretch in those first 25-30 games. Last night it wasn’t from lack of effort. Dwayne Rolosson always seems to come up big against us. But at least we were able to salvage a point out of the game.
Do you guys feel as bummed losing shootouts as you do losing in regular games?
If it's good for the fans, it’s great, but if you're not one of the guys shooting you don’t get too excited about it. We have the luxury of watching Pav [Pavel Datsyuk], Hank [Henrik Zetterberg] and [Juri] Hudler and some of those guys with nice moves. Being a defensemen sitting there, I was hoping we could pull it out, but it is pretty disappointing when you lose.
What did you think when Zetterberg did a slap shot in the shootout loss?
I talked to him about it today. If you’re going to go down you might as well go down swinging. So the next time you see him you’ll probably see him do something pretty fancy. I don’t know what he was thinking there. It’s not very characteristic of him to go out and take a slap shot, but maybe he saw something we didn’t.
Did you think the defense was going to be as good this season as it is?
We’ve always stressed our zones. ... Ozzie has gotten out to such a great start. I think he surprised a lot of people. He carried that over from last year; he finished out last year very well. He’s leading the league in goals against. He’s 15-1. And obviously Dom came back strong after a couple of rough games. We have the best one-two punch in goaltending.
How do you view the goaltending controversy?
You know we’re comfortable with either guy, but you know everyone always expects more from Dom. If he does struggle, they wouldn’t hesitate to throw Ozzie in there. That’s our luxury that I don’t think any team in the league can say they have. When Dom is on there is no goalie better in the league, but right now Ozzie is playing as good as any goalie in the league. Like I said, it’s a good luxury to have.
Are you surprised with the penalty kill without Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby?
Yeah it’s amazing. No matter who goes down, the other players seem to pick up the slack. When we lost those guys -- what they have in experience and penalty killing we’ve been fortunate. But, you know, when things go right everybody is pitching in. Valtteri Filppula, Hudler, [Mike] Hartigan came in from Grand Rapids last night and scored a goal. Hopefully we come back next week, and Malts, I don’t know what his timeframe is. At least some of these young guys are getting some experience and put a little burden on their shoulders to help and workout.
There are still empty seats, do you guys notice this?
I wish I had the answer. I guess that’s why they hired that new marketing guy. In the past they had [Steve] Yzerman, [Brendan] Shanahan, [Brett] Hull and guys to fill the (Joe). I don’t think we’ve lost fans; we’ve just lost them in the building. I don’t know if it’s the economy; I think that’s part of it. I know they are going to lower ticket sales in January and try and make it affordable for families. ... And you notice. I mean we like playing at home, but you can certainly tell the noise level and intensity level and we hope to get more people back in there.
Fighting is up in the NHL, the style of play is better don’t you think?
Yeah. And it shows. If you’re North American, that’s what you want to see. I think the hardest thing we're going through -- we're suffering with this TV deal. The Versus Network, the OLN, whatever you want to call it -- until we get that kind of a major network like ESPN where kids can see more fighting and highlights, it's harder to sell the sport. We need answers and hopefully before next season.
The fighting element is what people complained about.
I think what you're seeing now is the rule changed. All the other sports -- basketball, football -- you're allowed to throw picks. ... Now it's an open season on defensemen, and forwards are taking pretty goods runs at the defensemen. And I don’t like it. The forward takes a chip you're not allowed to hit him. A defensemen does and you can count one one-thousand, two one-thousand and you get a pretty good run on the guy. They have to find a happy medium to protect the players.
Does Aaron Downey play with a full-deck?
He’s a great kid, he has all these sayings and philosophies. He is a very intelligent kid. He is great to have in the room; he takes a lot of pressure of the guys. Back in the day every team used to have five or six guys like that. Aaron brings that and we haven’t had it in a while. He’s a great guy to have in the room and a great guy to have on the team.
The Mitchell Report just came out, what is your take on steroids in hockey?
I played longer than anyone now. Twenty-four years and I’ve never been approached, I’ve never had anyone mention it to me. Obviously there has to have been someone who had tried it, and I’m not going to be ignorant and guess, but now that they have all that testing, we’ve managed to get by it and I’m glad for that. This baseball thing is a shame, but whatever they do with these guys -- it will all be over. They addressed it and it’s a good thing. I have two sons, 18 and 16, and I’m not gonna’ lie, there are kids their age that are taking these things. They are such a disadvantage to my kids, because obviously performance enhancing drugs work, but bottom line it’s not healthy or fair. And I think that’s the message the MLB is trying to send to kids. Baseball is tarnished but they will recover from this, but they should have more severe testing. Blood, urine, whatever this takes, -- be harsher with the penalties. Ban them from the sport if they do it one time and nobody will do it again.
Would you rat out your sons’ friends that take steroids to their parents?
It’s amazing but no. I am minding my own business. After all that’s been said about them you’d think the parents would be smart enough to not allow their kids to do this. I guess the bottom line is they are trying to get their kids scholarships and it isn’t worth it. Let the kid get stronger and bigger and develop with age. But like I said it is unfair to my kids. I think there should be more harsh testing, and I know it is expensive to get more harsh testing in high school in college. But if that’s what it takes to end it then they should do it. I don’t know if they can do that with blood or not, but they can find a test for it -- if the rule came out that you would be banned, I don’t think anyone would try it anymore