During their first practice today with newly-signed teammate Chris Chelios, Atlanta Thrashers teammates expressed feelings of embarrassment over the fatherly passing style of the 48-year-old veteran defenseman.
"I know he means well, but his passes are so soft. Almost effeminate," said 22-year-old right wing Bryan Little. "And then he spends all this time telling us that his way of passing is just as good and effective as the way we do it, more effective even."
Added Little: "It's so humiliating."
Team sources who attended practice say several Alanta players avoidedChelios's passes throughout the two hours on the ice. Thrashers teammates confirmed the reports, claiming they feared being mocked by the rest of the NHL. Several Thrashers players could be seen using several different strategies of disassociating themselves fromChelios, including skating in a huddled group on the other side of the blue line, hanging out behind the far net, and pretending to not be able to hear him on the bench.
Additionally, the players feared scoring on a pass fromChelioswould lead him into one of his outdated celebratory dances his favorites being The Macarena and wild gyrations to "Who Let The Dogs Out?".
"The worst is when he tries to act cool or be funny when he passes," said center Rich Peverley. "He has no idea how stupid he looks, and I'm afraid he's going to hurt himself. He shouldn't be out here with us. I guess he doesn't have any friends his own age. I hope I'm not like that when I'm old."
Despite the obvious awkwardness in how the Thrashers deal with Chelios,the vet has shown his teammates unconditional support no matter how much they rebel, loudly yelling "You can do it!" and "I believe in you!" from the bench. According to players, this makes them feel even more embarrassed.
ThoughChelioswas not invited out for drinks with the rest of the Thrashers after practice, he offered everyone on the team a ride home in his Ford Taurus, no matter how late they were out.