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Thrashers sign 48-year-old defenseman Chelios

ATLANTA (Reuters) - The Atlanta Thrashers have given 48-year-old defenseman Chris Chelios a chance to possibly play in the NHL again.

The 11-time All-Star has signed a contract with the Thrashers and could be called up from the American Hockey League if needed, general manager Don Waddell said on the team's website (http://thrashers.nhl.com) Tuesday.

"You never know," Waddell told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's website (www.ajc.com) when asked about the possibility of Chelios joining the Thrashers. "We have a busy schedule. When you go into a run like this, you like to have 10 defenseman in case you get a couple of injuries."

Terms of Chelios's contract were not released.

He has played 44 games with the Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers' American Hockey League affiliate, this season and will remain with the Wolves once he clears waivers, the NHL's official website (www.nhl.com) reported.

If he returns to the NHL, he would be the oldest player in the league this season.

Gordie Howe holds the record for the oldest to compete in the NHL. He played for the Hartford Whalers during the 1979-80 season at the age of 52.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina. editing by Justin Palmer)