Hockeytown has always had its heroes. Some of the greatest players the National Hockey League has ever seen donned the winged wheel and played at Joe Louis Arena. Nicklas Lidstrom has become a transcendent superstar for the Detroit Red Wings, and to the displeasure of many, is calling it quits after 20 seasons in Detroit.
The announcement was made official this morning when Lidstrom, along with General Manager Ken Holland and Owner Mike Illitch held a press conference to tell the world what we hoped wasn’t coming.
Lidstrom’s NHL accomplishments have been unmatched to this point, and he was one of the first European players to have substantial success in the NHL.
Nicklas Lidstrom was the first European-born player to win the Conn Smythe trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the first to win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defensemen. Lidstrom was also the first European-born captain to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Hockey News named Lidstrom the best European player ever to play in the NHL. The Sporting News and Sports Illustrated named him the best NHL player of the decade. And the list goes on and on.
I believe the extent to a players impact can be best portrayed by fans of opposing teams, especially rival teams. Outside of the occasional jerkwad who just wants attention, you won’t find anybody saying anything poorly about the Red Wings’ captain. I have seen fans of the Chicago Blackhawks admit they were nearly brought to tears this morning during the press conference. And that should tell you everything you need to know about Nick Lidstrom.
He personified greatness, in every aspect of his life. You never saw Nick Lidstrom in the police reports. He was always polite with the media. I read one tweet citing Lidstrom’s affinity for always looking people in the eyes when he spoke to them. Class. All class.
There are few superstars in the modern day and age who carried themselves with the class and dignity of Nicklas Lidstrom.
Lidstrom said in his presser today that he wanted to be able to walk away from the game with pride, rather than have the game walk away from him. So humble, and so deserving of his day.
Hockeytown has added a new hero, and there won’t be a dry-eye in the place when #5 is hung from the rafters at the Joe.
We will miss you Nick, thank you for the memories.