Nicklas Lidstrom feted in retirement

Red Wings captain calls it quits after 20 NHL seasons

Even Doug Wilson was torn. Upon being asked about the possible retirement announcement of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, the San Jose Sharks’ general manager didn’t even let the question come out.

“I hope he does,” Wilson said with a laugh. “And I love him.”

Wilson later clarified that he hoped Lidstrom wasn’t actually walking away from the game after 20 NHL seasons, 1,564 games and seven Norris trophies. But Lidstrom did call it a Hall of Fame career Thursday, leaving Detroit with a void that’s impossible to fill.

“He is the standard of how we want people to play the game. Ultimate professional. When we’re teaching young defensemen how to play the game, I don’t think there’s anybody that’s ever been as technically strong as him,” Wilson said. “You don’t replace players like that. You don’t.”

At the draft and when free agency opens July 1, Red Wings general manager Ken Holland will have that unenviable task. For the better part of the past two decades, Lidstrom has been one of the cornerstones of the franchise. Until this past season, he had never missed more than six games in a season, setting the example for teammates and young defensemen and Swedes who admired him.

But the admiration society spans the sport.

“He’s probably one of the best defensemen ever to play the game, if not the greatest, so I think that alone says something,” Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. “I think he’s a special player. I think the game of hockey is lucky to have him as many years as we’ve had.”

Lidstrom’s ex-teammates and others around the game talked Wednesday about Lidstrom’s impending departure like Thursday would be a funeral.

At his news conference in Detroit, the 42-year-old showed class in making clear he was going out on his terms, before his body failed him.

“It’s not that the tank is completely empty. I just don’t have enough to carry me through,” he told reporters. “Retiring today allows me to walk away with pride.”

Proud would describe Lidstrom, but Wilson — a defenseman for 16 NHL seasons and the Norris winner in 1982-82 — called Lidstrom’s game “brilliant in its simplicity.” He rarely if ever sacrificed defensive responsibilities but still put up 1,142 points. At 6-foot-1, he was never a physically imposing force, but his technical abilities compensated for any perceived shortcoming.

Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, during his 22-year career the Red Wings, had a front-row seat to Lidstrom’s brilliance

“Having played with him and watched him closely from his first game in the NHL, people know about it now, but we said it all along, you have to watch him closely to appreciate how good he is, what a great athlete he is, because he makes the position look so easy,” Yzerman said. “He is a special athlete.”

And eventually a special captain, succeeding Yzerman in that role and becoming the first European to be handed the Stanley Cup.

Though there already has been speculation about Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter signing with Detroit to replace Lidstrom, this may be the hardest loss to move on from since Yzerman retired after the 2005-06 season. Or it might be worse; Yzerman knew stars Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg were waiting in the wings.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) looks to pass in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 114-93. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Wizards’ Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. hoping for big splash on small stage

  • Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) is surrounded by fans that rushed the field and security as he is escorted off the field following their 45-38 win over Oklahoma in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    SNYDER: RG3 worth his weight in bronze to Baylor

  • Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado (13), celebrates his two-run homer with Adam Jones left, with Nick Markakis, at right, during the 11th inning of an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. The Orioles won 8-2, in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Accidental rivalry: Nats-Orioles doesn’t have much edge

  • Celebrities In The News
  • (Image from DeAngelo Williams' Facebook post)

    NFL star likely fooled by Marine impostor who accepted first-class plane ticket

  • ** FILE ** In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo actor George Clooney attends the premiere of "Gravity" at the AMC Lincoln Square Theaters, in New York. George Clooney has chastised a British newspaper over an article claiming his fiancee's mother disapproves of the impending marriage for religious reasons. Clooney said that the claims about his future mother-in-law Baria Alamuddin were untrue and irresponsible. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

    Website apologizes for Clooney mother-in-law story

  • Kim Kardashian arrives at the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment 2014 Upfront at the Javits Center on Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

    Kim Kardashian visits Jersey shore