1,564 games later.
May 31, 2012 5:35 PM   Subscribe

I've been dreading this day since I became manager in 1997," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. This day, today, Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom retired from the game of professional hockey after 20 NHL seasons. Lidstrom is considered to be one of the best defenseman ever to play the game.

Many speculated that the seemingly ageless Lidstrom, now 42, would return for another season.

"I felt a relief once I made the decision," Lidstrom said. "This year, it's painfully obvious to me my strength and energy level are not rebounding. My drive and motivation is not where it needs to be to play at this level. It's been a great ride."

From the Detroit Free Press:
Team owner Mike Illitch called today, “one of the most emotional days in Red Wings history.” He called Lidstrom “a Rock of Gibraltar” and marveled that, for 20 years, there never was an off-ice misstep, never an embarrassment and he always was the epitome of class. “There were no variations,” Ilitch said.
It is for this reason, among others, that Lidstrom is jokingly referred to as “The Perfect Human.” His stellar career, all with the Red Wings, includes 20 straight playoff apperances, 4 Stanley Cups, 7 Norris Trophies (for best defenseman), 1 Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, and 11 NHL All-Star game appearances. And oh, yeah, a gold medal too.

Mitch Albom weighs in with a nice retrospective on Nick's career: (warning: Mitch Albom)
How good was Lidstrom? Seven Norris Trophies for best defenseman. Four Stanley Cups. An Olympic gold. A world championship.

How good? On the 2002 Red Wings, maybe the greatest group of talent ever assembled on one roster, he was the guy who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs.

How good? In his first season, as a rookie, he played 80 games; it was like he sprung from the womb as an All-Star.

How good? Until this season, he never played fewer than 76 games in a full regular season. And six times he played every game.

How good? When Steve Yzerman was at his peak, he would constantly refer to Lidstrom as "the best player on the team."
For Red Wings GM Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock, the future looms large.
posted by kbanas (25 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
A great post for a great man.
posted by troika at 5:37 PM on May 31, 2012

Lidstrom had game.

They might as well have called last year's Sharks vs. Red Wings playoffs Sharks vs. Lidstrom, as the rest of the Red Wings apparently failed to show up in any meaningful way.

... and it still took seven games to beat him.
posted by markkraft at 6:06 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is it bad that I expected Red Wings might be a fast food chain?

Do we really have to do this in every sports thread?

Lidstrom's undoubtedly one of the all-time greats, a first-ballot hall of famer for sure. I'll be at the Wings' season opener next year; I'm really hoping to see number 5 raised to the rafters.
posted by downing street memo at 6:08 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Awesome post. I was sad (but not really surprised) to see Lidstrom announce his retirement. Great player, and a great human being; I think he had something like 515 penalty minutes -- in the past TWENTY SEASONS.

Zetterberg/Datsyuk 2012!
posted by specialagentwebb at 6:11 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm not old enough to have seen Jean Beliveau play, but I see him described as an elegant skater who scored beautiful goals. That he played the game with grace and intelligence.

I think the same words can be used to describe Lidstrom's play. Elegant, efficient, graceful, and most of all, intelligent.

I suppose this also means Ken Holland and Shea Webber's agent have reached an unspoken understanding.
posted by notyou at 6:17 PM on May 31, 2012

Oh, also: Go Kings Go!
posted by notyou at 6:18 PM on May 31, 2012


No one cares about defense. But in this game...

Nice post.
posted by Toekneesan at 6:27 PM on May 31, 2012

posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:31 PM on May 31, 2012


Considering the storied history of the franchise, to be one of their best is really saying something. He'll be sorely missed.

Has it really been twenty years since I've seen my Red Wings play without him? Oof.
posted by Nabubrush at 6:37 PM on May 31, 2012

I don't think a dot is called for, since the guy is still pulling breaths. He's just retired. Now he can go fishing and hang out with the grandkids and not worry about his abs.

Assuming the spat between the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees gets resolved (which it will) years hence on his retirement it will be the same. A player like that comes along maybe once a decade. The team that gets him can still screw it up -- why Archie Manning never got to the Superbowl -- but the team that doesn't get him is screwed.
posted by localroger at 6:44 PM on May 31, 2012

The Detroit Redwings, I wore their hockey gear as a kid, inadvertently, my new immigrant parents didn't realize we're in a Leaf town.

I took some guff for that.Didn't matter to me. The/chipss were the familys' country's flag.

What a career!
To Herr Lidstrom!
posted by alicesshoe at 6:46 PM on May 31, 2012

I am in no way a Red Wings fan, but Lidström was a classy, talented, and dedicated player, and hockey is worse off without him.

Well done, sir. Well done.
posted by eriko at 6:58 PM on May 31, 2012

Congrats to Lidstrom on an amazing career. Thank you so very much for posting this.
posted by glaucon at 7:38 PM on May 31, 2012

Meanwhile Henrik Lundqvist is sitting on his couch going 'what a pussy'.

I kid.
posted by spicynuts at 7:42 PM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

With Lidstrom gone, my interest in the NHL has also reached a nadir. Beyond the life sucking futility of being a Leaf fan, the lock out did me in. The last great final I followed was the 2002 final (and the Leafs were close to going to that show - our last great playoff run) and the Red Wings absolutely schooled Carolina, to my great and lasting glee.

The game has changed, and so has my interest. Lidstrom, in addition to being one of the top two defensemen ever to not be Bobby Orr, was a representative of the best of the pre-lock out era, when I had some modicum of interest in the League.

So here's a glass raised high to what has moved right on. Well played Nik!
posted by salishsea at 8:00 PM on May 31, 2012

also thanks for the Mitch Albom warning
posted by salishsea at 8:01 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

Man, I don't know what hockey is going to be like without guys like Lidstrom and Teemu Selanne, another legend whose retirement is probably imminent. After the headshot disaster that was the first couple of rounds of these playoffs, it really feels like hockey's getting rougher, dumber, and cheaper by the day.

I was never a big Red Wings or Ducks fan, but there is something effortlessly classy about guys like Lidstrom and Selanne who show talent on the ice and utter self-effacement off it. I'm going to miss Nick, and everything he represented, a lot.
posted by ZaphodB at 8:23 PM on May 31, 2012

I'm a Nashville fan so I have no love for Detroit but you have to respect Lidstrom for his skill and class.

Now the Wings will steal Suter with a huge deal :(
posted by ghharr at 8:59 PM on May 31, 2012

This ending is way more significant than the Jamie Moyer "reassignment" which is on the newsfeed in my zipcode. Lidstrom is one of the all-time greats. I would have rooted a lot harder if he had played for my team. Best wishes to the guy in his post pro years.
posted by bukvich at 9:00 PM on May 31, 2012

It feels like the end of an era, with Lidstrom's retirement. I've become less of a fan of the NHL in recent years despite my hometeam's improvement to near stratospheric heights; the refereeing is simply too inconsistent and off-ice discipline obviously biased based on whether the offending player is a star on a team with a potentially lucrative TV contract if they have success in the playoffs vs. some scrub on a team that the NHL isn't trying to bolster or are already a lock for a playoff position.

The significant uptick in head injuries, alone, makes it really frustrating to see the NHL talking about cracking down on intents-to-injure but not actually doing anything about it, consistently.

I'm nowhere close to being a parent, but I've heard talk from said who feel that the level of violence/risk of injury at the professional level is so high, despite loving the game of hockey, that they're loath to start their kids in that sport. I agree; there have been a bunch of really brutal and disgusting (and illegal, whether officially decreed or not) hits this year and I think that the only reason kids should see it is to understand what not to do. "Do that, and you hurt someone. This badly. Maybe worse. You must never do that in a game."

One of the classiest players in professional sports has retired in one of the classiest ways possible. I cherish the hope to see Lidstrom back and involved in the game of hockey, at any level.
posted by porpoise at 9:01 PM on May 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

best defenseman ever to play the game

Or, as ESPN referred to him today in a lovingly-rendered full-screen title, BEST DEFENCMAN.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:04 PM on May 31, 2012

I suppose this also means Ken Holland and Shea Webber's agent have reached an unspoken understanding.

Weber is no replacement for Lidstrom. But you better believe teams are shitting in their pants about the idea of both Weber and Kronwall on the back end. It's going to be painful playing against Detroit if that happens.
posted by Hoopo at 12:24 AM on June 1, 2012

Heh. I was just talking to a friend about who was good on the Wings these days, and he was giving me shit for repping Lidstrom and some other veterans, saying that I was giving the 2001 roster and I had kinda a pause to think about how long Lidstrom had been with us. Not only with us, but still fantastic.
posted by klangklangston at 1:17 AM on June 1, 2012

Federov and Yzerman will probably always be my favorites, but Lidstrom was one of a kind.

Nick Lidstrom: Every Goal from the 97/98/02/08 Playoffs (check out that sweet, sweet pass from Stevie)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:02 PM on June 1, 2012

The/chipss were the familys' country's flag
ah, should've read, the colors were the familys....

the percentage of those reaching NHL caliber is slim. It's those games in the divisions below and years, takes it concussions toll.

The players are larger and NHL rinks are too small!
The game is still great.
posted by alicesshoe at 4:06 PM on June 1, 2012

« Older Transit of Venus   |   On the upside, she didn't have to scrub the paint... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments