By Charlie Roumeliotis
Chris Chelios was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday and is considered to be one of the greatest American-born players ever.
He spent 26 seasons in the NHL and won three Stanley Cups (one with Montreal, two with Detroit), and began his speech by mentioning the unusual start to his career.
"The word that keeps popping back in my head is 'comical,'" Chelios said. "Mostly because of the path I took, and not so much of what happened once I did make it."
Chelios was born in Chicago, but spent the majority of his teenage years in California where hockey wasn't exactly a popular sport. Americans played baseball and football, but Chelios found a way to get on the ice.
"I just happened to get lucky," he said. "We had an ice rink and basketball court, and froze it every winter and fortunately it was convenient enough for me to do something in the winter."
[WATCH: Chris Chelios could do it all]
Because Chelios didn't follow hockey on the West Coast, he never had a hockey hero until he started playing competitively. His favorite athlete as a kid was Chicago Bears linebacker Dick Butkus, who's recognized as one of the most intimidating players of all-time.
After explaining his NHL journey from Montreal to Chicago to Detroit, Chelios went on to thank his coaches and former players, such as the Blackhawks' Jeremy Roenick and Eddie Belfour, that "made [me] look good when I had some tough games."
Chelios also admitted his only regret in the NHL was the labor disputes last year, calling it a situation where "nobody won."
But after speaking about the worst part of the game, Chelios concluded by talking about the most "beautiful" part, which was his family, who joined him on stage.
"The most important thing to me was what my friends and family thought of me and how they perceived me as a person, a teammate, a player," Chelios said. "I owe everything in my life to my family and my friends, and this great game of hockey.
Chelios continued by thanking the fans and media, who says they were always fair to him, and wrapped up his statement that summed up an unforgettable night.
"I always said that somehow I'd remain in hockey in some capacity," Chelios said. "But if this is the last time I'm ever standing front and center in this type of setting, I just want to say, 'what a great ending.'"