It was the talk of the Capitals’ locker room in recent days – a nice accomplishment by Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom to play in his 1,500th regular-season NHL game Saturday night at Verizon Center.
The team didn’t miss a chance to honor Lidstrom, either, when that time came. It was a stoppage in the first period when a message congratulating the 41-year-old defenseman appeared on the video board.
Fans – Caps and Red Wings alike – gave Lidstrom a standing ovation as he lifted his stick to salute them. The greatest Swedish defenseman of all-time was appreciative of the reception.
“It was nice to see the crowd’s reaction when they announced it, and I was happy that the Capitals organization announced it, too,” Lidstrom said. “Class effort of their bench as well for standing up and giving me applause there.”
It’s hard to find anyone saying bad things about Lidstrom, who has four Stanley Cup rings, an Olympic gold medal, seven Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy. Caps center Nicklas Backstrom got the chance to be Lidstrom’s teammate at the 2010 Olympics.
“Such a great thing. You’re obviously pumped to play with those kind of guys,” Backstrom said Friday. “Great player, great leader. That’s what I learned from him. Nothing negative to say about him.”
As heartwarming as the reaction was, Lidstrom and the Red Wings were not treated kindly as visitors in the 7-1 defeat. It wasn’t really the way he wanted to celebrate.
“Especially playing game No. 1,500, I wanted to end on a better note,” he said.
Fortunately for Lidstrom, No. 1,500 won’t be his last.