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Chelios Joins ESPN: What Other former Red Wings Could Have Been Good on TV?



Former Detroit Red Wings player Chris Chelios has joined the ESPN broadcast team
Former Detroit Red Wings player Chris Chelios has joined the ESPN broadcast team

Former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios was one of several analysts that will work for ESPN next season when they return as one of the NHL’s two national television rights holders.

Chelios will join Mark Messier, Ray Ferraro, Brian Boucher,  Kevin Weekes, A.J. Mleczko, Kevin Weekes, Ryan Callahan,  Cassie Campbell-Pascall, Hillary Knight and Barry Melrose.

Chelios worked as an analyst before,  working for Fox at the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi, Russia. Chelios is not one to pull his punches in his analysis. He is not timid about giving his opinion about what has gone wrong on the ice and what should be done about it. His daughter Caley is a radio analyst for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

His return to television prompts me to ponder what other former Red Wings would have made quality television analyst. Here is a short list of players who could have done the job well:

Brendan Shanahan:

When he was playing, it was widely held that he was headed to a television career after his playing days were over. He opted to go into the management. But he could have been an exceptional analyst. He has an engaging, colorful personality with a quick wit. Shanahan knows the game inside-and-out.

Niklas Kronwall:

Not many European NHLers have ended up in the television booth in North America. But Kronwall could have pulled it off. He was the go-to guy in the Red Wings dressing room for insight into how the team was playing. Kronwall is thorough, but uncomplicated in his analysis. He is glib, likeable and knowledgeable. His history of delivering big hits also gives him a perspective that some analysts don’t have.

Kris Draper:

Could have been a Patrick Sharp style analyst. Always looks snazzy, comfortable in front of the camera and dispenses analysis in an easy-to-process manner. Smart. Can deliver one liners. Quality storyteller.  But Draper is the ultimate competitor and it suits him to still be part of the Red Wings team as the director of scouting.

Justin Abdelkader:

This one might not sit well with some fans because the Red Wings ended up having to buy out his contract. But Abdelkader is a player worth listening to. He could be good on television. Knows the game. Communicates well. Establishes rapport with his audience. With a little bit of training, he could be a natural.

Mike Vernon:

When Vernon talked to reporters he was sassy, entertaining,  funny and thought-provoking. He was never boring. Very astute in his analysis of what is happening on the ice.

Igor Larionov:

The Professor doesn’t fit the television analyst role in the traditional sense. Still has a Russian accent. But he is one of the smartest, fascinating and intriguing players I have ever met. The way he sees and thinks the game is different than most players. Larionov is such a smart player that he never put himself in position to be hit hard. One time, when playing for the Red Wings, he was crushed. Players asked him what happened, and he said: “They must have had six players on the ice.” Everyone laughed, but when the video was reviewed, the opponent did have too many players. Larionov accounted for five opposing skaters like he always did and it was the sixth man who waylaid him. Larionov has a powerful cache of hockey knowledge. If some TV producer could figure out how to package Larionov,  he could have been an intriguing analyst. He’s also humorous. He told me once in an interview that the secret to his longevity is that he drinks a glass of wine every night. After he played a couple of years, I asked if he was still following that plan. “No,” he said. He replaced it with a new plan. “Now I drink two glasses of wine,” he said.