No matter where your loyalties lie as far as NHL teams go, Thursday was a sad day for everyone who plays, coaches, watches, analyzes, or associates with thes port of hockey in any way. One of the greatest the game has ever seen called it a career, as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom announced his retirement.
Though Lidstrom’s future had been up in the air, you have to figure he could have kept going. The 20-year veteran just seemed to get better with age.
Since joining the Wings in the 1991-1992 season, Lidstrom was an absolute machine on the Detroit blue line. In 20 yeas, Lidstrom never missed the playoffs with Detroit, He hoisted four Stanley Cups over that time, the most recent of which was in 2008. That’s not to mention the ridiculous seven Norris Trophies that he won over the course of his storied career. He wasn’t flashy and he wasn’t physical, but Lidstrom played the game the way it should be played.
Lidstrom ends his career with over 1,500 games played and more than 1,100 points. He was a plus-450 for his career, only finishing in the minus one time in 20 years. Even in the rare even that he didn’t win the Norris in a season, Lidstrom’s name was right in the thick of things for the award.
Nick Lidstrom goes out, without question, as the greatest defenseman of his era. As much as I hate to compare players across eras, there’s obviously a case to be made for Lidstrom as the greatest d-man of all time. He was always a class act and the perfect example of how to carry yourself as a professional. He’ll be missed not just in Detroit, but all over the National Hockey League.
Now the Red Wings are faced with the tall task of replacing Lidstrom. It will be nearly impossible to replace his presence though. This isn’t a Chris Chelios situation where he needs to just hang ‘em up already. Lidstrom was still among the top active players and his presence will be missed in every way possible.
The one thing that is a guarantee: it will be a weird, and maybe an empty feeling, when the Red Wings hit the ice next season without no. 5 in the lineup.