Old man Chelios and his Malibu Mob
Red Wings' Chris Chelios is the godfather of a group of Hollywood celebrity pals
Members include John Cusack, D.B. Sweeney, John McEnroe and Tony Danza
The group hangs out in Malibu and Detroit, and gets Chelios bit parts in films
When the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup two years ago, the team attracted some familiar Hollywood faces who, in true celebrity bandwagon fashion, traded in their old silver and black Los Angeles Kings jerseys for more current Ducks gear. This year, despite being one win away from the Western Conference Finals, the Ducks haven't attracted as many celebrities to support them -- just yet.
The same can't be said for veteran Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios, who had a pretty strong contingent of celebrities cheering for him in Anaheim.
Then again, Chelios isn't you're average 47-year-old NHL defenseman. He's the ringleader of the "Malibu Mob," an exclusive gang of athletes and celebrities that live in Malibu and hang out together during the summer. The Mob currently includes John Cusack, John McEnroe, Tony Danza, John C. McGinley, D.B. Sweeney, Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece.
"I'm going to take credit for the name," said Chelios. "Tony Danza and myself were the original two guys that came up with that and, slowly but surely, we built a little clan with most being Irish. It's a cool thing. We are like a mob. We travel in a pack whether it's for sports or dinners or family outings we're all together for two months out of the years."
The name actually arose because Chellios would constantly point to the fact that most everyone in the group was Irish and that it was like hanging with the "Irish Mob" even though they would usually meet at Taverna Tony, a famous Greek restaurant in Malibu.
"Chris was the first to say it. It was just one of those jokes that was funny like four times and stopped being funny the next 14 times and then Chris kept saying it so many times that it got funny again," said Sweeney, who played "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in the baseball movie Eight Men Out. "It started with a joke about the Irish Mob with McGinley, Cusack and McEnroe, and Cheli was the only Greek. Somehow the Irish Mob got to be run by the Greek guy. He's the godfather."
He's not only the godfather of the Malibu Mob, the other members don't let him forget that the he's also enough to be its grandfather.
"Chris Chelios is the oldest man in the world," said Cusack. "He's actually 792 years old. He's Methuselah Chelios. When the Blackhawks traded him away (in 1999), I just followed him to Detroit and I think he's going to play here forever."
Part of the reason that Chelios is still able to play in the NHL after 25 seasons is the strict training regimen he follows in the offseason while he's in Malibu. He goes surfing with Hamilton, plays tennis with McEnroe, and goes for bike rides up mountains with McGinley and Sweeney.
"He's great but we give him grief about everything," said Sweeney, who met Chelios on the set of Cutting Edge, a romantic comedy where Sweeney played a hockey player. "Have you seen his nose? I mean if there is something where grief can be given, we'll give it. When you're 47 years old and playing at a world-class level in the fastest sport and you have zero percent body fat, you need to be brought down a peg as often as possible."
During the offseason, Chelios occasionally stops by the sets of some of the mob members to support them the same way they do when they come out to his games. While Chelios isn't able to bring his friends onto the ice, some of his friends have put him (or his jersey) in front of the camera.
"Chelios has a cameo in Two Tickets to Paradise, the movie McGinley and I did," said Sweeney. "We had to make his character hard of hearing because he's not very directable so his character actually has a hearing aid. John wore his jersey on Scrubs a couple times and I stuck him in couple other movies, so we try to embarrass him every chance we get."
While the mob normally meets in Malibu, Chelios had a gathering in Detroit over the summer after winning the Stanley Cup last June. He took them to Comerica Park, where they took in batting practice and went across the street to Cheli's Chili Bar, where they drank from the Cup and watched Kid Rock play a set as he sat on top of it.
"The Malibu Mob is amazing," said Christopher Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. which owns the Red Wings and Tigers. "Chris Chellios wanted to take them and the Cup to the ballpark and take a picture on the field, and I said that would be cool but wouldn't it be cooler to turn on the lights and get a bucket of balls and some bats and let these guys take a few strokes. It wasn't planned out. It just sort of happened."
After Chelios brought to the Stanley Cup to Malibu (and nearly left it behind at the beach) last year, the mob began to literally get mobbed by fellow residents who wanted to join the exclusive club. The response to their queries is always the same.
"You can't," said McGinley whose character on Scrubs, Dr. Perry Cox, has worn Chelios' jersey. "Kid Rock was the last guy to break in. The one criteria is you have to be able to eat with anybody in the mob independent of everybody else. Cheli gets starstruck every once and awhile and tries to bring in celebrities and he was penalized a couple summers ago. Everybody knows who the Malibu Mob is, but there are no application forms."