Chelios headed to Thrashers

Chris Chelios is headed back to the show.

The 48-year-old defenseman, a three-time Norris Trophy winner, has been called up by the Atlanta Thrashers, general manager Don Waddell told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

"Can't wait. Got to make the most out of this chance," Chelios said in a text message to ESPN.com.

Chelios had 22 points (5 goals, 17 assists) in 46 games with the AHL's Chicago Wolves this season. He signed an NHL deal with the Thrashers on March 2. The Wolves are Atlanta's primary AHL affiliate.

"Chris has been an outstanding leader and mentor for our young players in Chicago and his level of play has made him deserving of this opportunity," Waddell said. "He's a tremendous competitor who strengthens our group of defensemen and instantly adds a veteran presence to our locker room."

The Chicago native, who has played in more games than any other American-born NHL player, last played in the NHL last May 27 with the Detroit Red Wings against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference finals.

Chelios was limited to 28 games with Detroit during the 2008-09 regular season because of a broken leg suffered during an exhibition game. He played in six games during the playoffs.

He has 948 points in his career with Detroit, the Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens. He has appeared in an NHL-record 266 Stanley Cup playoff games and is a three-time captain for the U.S. Olympic team.

At 48, Chelios is still three years younger than the oldest man to ever play in an NHL game. Gordie Howe was 51 when he scored 15 goals for the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report..