"When I told him we weren't going to re-sign him (after 2009), I told him to keep in touch," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland told reporters on Friday. "He called me in May and told me he was going to take me up on my offer."
The 48-year-old played for Detroit from 1999-2009 and last season for the Atlanta Thrashers and the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. Prior to Detroit, he played for the Montreal Canadiens and Chicago Blackhawks.
"He can really help us in player development and as an ambassador," Holland added. "(Head coach) Mike Babcock has told me there'll be times during the year he'll lean on him. To some degree, it'll be an internship for Cheli."
Chelios played 1,651 games in his career, the most by an American player, winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman three times, the Stanley Cup three times and played for the U.S. in four Winter Olympics.
(Reporting by Mike Mouat in Windsor, Ontario; Editing by John O'Brien)