Posted by: kristagolden | May 31, 2012

The end of an era in Detroit

Nicklas Lidstrom is a 7-time Norris Trophy winner,  scorer of 1,142 points in 1,564 games, winner of 4 Stanley Cups, Olympic gold medalist, member of the Triple Gold Club, 11-time All-Star and became the first Euro-born captain to win the Stanley Cup in 2008.

Today, he became a former member of the Detroit Red Wings.

When the announcement of a press conference came yesterday, I knew it was about his retirement. It’s one of those things that you know is inevitable, but you don’t want to see it happen.

He explained his reason for leaving: for the last three years, he’d waited till after the season to assess whether he would return; this year it was clear that he couldn’t because “my drive and motivation are not where they need to be.” He said that he can’t believe that he’d been with the Wings for 20 years.

Ever the gentleman and overall classy guy, he thanked everyone, starting with his coaches over the years in both Sweden and in Detroit. He particularly said that Scotty Bowman pushed him to another level of play.

Although he didn’t have the time to thank every teammate he’s had over his career, he mentioned former teammates Brendan Shanahan, Luc Robitaille, Steve Yzerman, Dominik Hasek, and Chris Chelios. He then thanked everyone behind the scenes, even the ushers, caterers and others at Joe Louis Arena and with the Red Wings organization.

Here was the best quote of the presser: “I take a lot of pride in what I’ve done here over the past 20 years…retiring today allows me to walk away from the game with pride, rather than have the game walk away from me.”

(Question: why the hell has this man never won a Lady Byng Trophy?)

General Manager Ken Holland spoke briefly, saying that Nick was no-maintenance, and that the only time he was in the office was when they called him in. “Nick’s been an incredible role model to our team and our city.”

Then it was time for Q&A from the press, and we go this info:

  • His fondest memory: winning his first Stanley Cup on home ice.
  • The family plans to move back to Sweden, and he’d like to stay in touch with the Red Wings organization in some manner.
  • The advice he’s given younger players: “If you work hard and do what’s right, good things will happen to you.”
  • He sees guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk as leaders for the team. He declined to say who he’d like to see as captain.
  • His late-season injury slowed him down but wasn’t a factor in his decision; “If I cheat myself and don’t play at the level I want to, that’s on me.”
  • He hasn’t thought about pulling a Peter Forsberg (coming back during the season), nor has he been approached about playing in the Winter Classic alumni game. He said the WC wasn’t big enough to sway him to stay another season.

I think Dustin Penner said it best (though I suspect Anze Kopitar helped with the Swedish):

Congratulations to Nick Lidstrom on a first ballot hall of fame career. It was an honor to chase you around the ice and never catch you

Tack för allt, Nick. Thanks for everything.

– Krista


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