A class of his own: Lindstrom hangs up his skates
Today, the Motor City lost a piece of it’s history. Don’t worry, the auto industry hasn’t been out-sourced. The Tigers are still on the prowl. Instead, iconic defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom has announced his retirement.
“Retiring today allows me to walk away from the game with pride, rather than have the game walk away from me,” Lidstrom said.
His illustrious 20-year career will see him go down as one of the games absolute best. Nicknamed “The Perfect Human,” he was perhaps even more than that. The perfect teammate, the perfect captain, the perfect ambassador, the perfect man to have patrolling your blueline for two decades.
Lidstrom will be forever etched in the books of hockey’s proud history as the first European-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup in 2008. The holy grail of hockey, he has hoisted Lord Stanley’s trophy four times. His 1,564 games are the most to ever be played by a player that stayed with one club for his entire career. They rank behind only “Mr. Hockey” himself (Gordie Howe) in games played for the storied Red Wings franchise. He has never missed the playoffs, setting a team record for post-season games with 263. He had 11 game-winning goals in hockey’s postseason, and became the first European to win the Conn Smythe in 2003.
A sure-fire first ballot hall-of-famer, his list of personal accomplishments is daunting. He has won the Norris Trophy a remarkable seven times as the league’s top defenseman. He ranks 50th all-time in scoring (6th among defenseman). His plus-450 ranks eighth all-time.
The way he played the game was also something of legend. New York Rangers’ defenseman Michael Del Zotto said he had “more patience than a hospital.” This could not be more true. He would never over-commit, and could hardly ever be beaten one-on-one. If you aren’t paying close attention, you might miss what makes Lidstrom so special. He is so precise and smooth, he seems to play effortlessly. He does every thing at a high level. His shot wont blow you away, but it is accurate and he always picks the right time. He is an amazing passer, hardly ever committing turnovers. he protects the puck better than most, and his positioning is unparalleled.
As a Coloradan, I was trained to hate the Red Wings. Lidstrom (along with Steve Yzerman) made themselves impossible to dislike. Lidstrom played the game with such class, he is impossible not to like. The ultimate sportsman, he commanded the respect of teammates, opponents, fans and foes alike. Despite playing over 1,500 games, he only received 514 penalty minutes, a testament to him always playing the game the right way.
I’m sure all of the Red Wings faithful are feeling a bit blue at the moment, and understandably so. Fret not, as you will still be able to see Lidstrom at the Winter Classic. Unfortunately it won’t be in the actual game, but instead the alumni contest. His retirement will also free up the necessary funds to attempt to replace their captain.
This task is impossible, however Ryan Suter would cushion the blow. Detroit is widely speculated to be Suter’s first choice. He has bloodlines and more importantly, world-class talent. He will command a hefty price, but Detroit has always spent wisely, and can more than afford him.
Still there is only one Nicklas Lidstrom. Today he hangs up his skates, as million hang on to memories of him on the ice. Some day soon, his number will forever hang from the rafters of Joe Louis.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.