No slowing Lidstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom is walking a fine line, trying to play at a high level for the Detroit Red Wings as long as he can without figuring out too late he played one too many seasons.

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom

DETROIT — Nicklas Lidstrom is walking a fine line, trying to play at a high level for the Detroit Red Wings as long as he can without figuring out too late he played one too many seasons.

“You just never know when it’s going to happen,” he said.

Lidstrom doesn’t want to retire too soon. Or, too late.

It looks like he made the right decision to play his 19th NHL season.

Lidstrom has 44 points in 50 games — not too shabby for a 40-year-old defenceman — to rank second in scoring for the Central Division-leading Red Wings.

“I feel as good as I did four or five years ago,” he said.

Sticking around gave Lidstrom a unique opportunity last weekend.

Team Lidstrom beat Team Staal 11-10 Sunday night in the first all-star game with captains choosing the rosters. In a game known for wide-open play and high scores, Lidstrom subtly starred in his own way with a plus-7 in the game.

Lidstrom almost went back home after last season.

The four-time Stanley Cup champion and six-time Norris Trophy winner considered returning to Sweden when his 16-year-old son started school there last fall. But Lidstrom chose to play at least one more NHL season, signing a US$6.2 million, one-year deal and using Skype to keep in touch with his oldest of four sons.

“It was tough in the beginning because I was used to having all of our kids around,” Lidstrom said.

“It was great when he came home for two weeks around Christmas. We’re Skyping almost daily, so we get to see him and talk to him. He’s growing up and becoming a man.”

Lidstrom has some teammates young enough to be one of his boys.

“Some of these guys were only a year old when I joined the league in 1991,” he said. “Sometimes, I think about that.”

Hall of Famer Gordie Howe will never forget skating with the Red Wings during Lidstrom’s rookie year.

“That’s back when I still got out there with the guys sometimes and he was the first one to drop his glove and shake my hand,” Howe said during the playoffs last year. “He’s a perfect gentleman.”

Howe, who played for the Hartford Whalers when he was 52, hopes Lidstrom doesn’t retire any time soon.

“He should play forever,” Howe said. “He’s got the ability and plays a gentleman’s game that tells me he’s got a long way to go.”

The Red Wings hope Mr. Hockey is right.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland, who was a western amateur scout with the franchise in 1989 when it drafted Lidstrom in the third round, marvels at his relentless attention to detail on a daily basis.

“The beauty of Nick is, he’s the same every day and he’s no maintenance,” Holland said. “He might not wow you if you just watch him one game, but his greatness is that he rarely makes a mistake shift after shift, game after game, year after year.

“This is supposed to be a young man’s league, but at the age of 40, I still think he’s the best two-way defenceman in the world. Among all-time defenceman, I’d put him second behind only Bobby Orr.”

Lidstrom was honoured as the NHL’s best defenceman in 2008 for a sixth time, putting his Norris Trophy collection behind only Bobby Orr and Doug Harvey.

“It’s hard to find anybody who has had as consistent career, and almost been mistake-free like Nick has,” former teammate Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s vice-president of hockey and business development, said last year when he was in Detroit for a game. “People always want to dissect his game, prematurely. If your game catches a cold and you’re 30, people say it’s no big deal, if you’re 40, people are ready to get you a coffin.”

The Red Wings would love to have Lidstrom commit to continuing his career beyond this season — he turned down a two-year offer from them last summer — but he plans to wait until after the season to decide whether to come back or call it a career.

“I’ll reassess in the summer, just like I did last time,” Lidstrom said. “Kenny asked me if I wanted to sign a two-year deal, but I just want to take it one year at a time.

“I’m happy that I came back to play this season. We’ve got a pretty good team and it was an honour to be selected as a captain for the all-star game.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

House sales remain hot in central Alberta with first-quarter sales nearly double last year’s numbers. Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Central Alberta real estate market hot in 2021

Residential sales nearly double 2020 in first quarter

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer gave an update on Olymel's COVID-19 situation on Wednesday. (File photo by Advocate staff).
Veer addresses rising COVID-19 cases in Red Deer

Red Deer has added nearly 200 cases of active COVID-19 cases in past week

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Innisfail RCMP are investigating a single-vehicle crash that happened west of Bowden on March 21, 2021. (File photo by Advocate staff)
RCMP investigate culturally insensitive graffiti at Sylvan Lake school

Sylvan Lake RCMP is investigating a vandalism incident. On April 17 around… Continue reading

A vial of the Medicago vaccine sits on a surface. CARe Clinic, located in Red Deer, has been selected to participate in the third phase of vaccine study. (Photo courtesy www.medicago.com)
Red Deer clinical research centre participating in plant-based COVID-19 vaccine trial

A Red Deer research centre has been selected to participate in the… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks' Tanner Pearson, right, celebrates after scoring against Toronto Maple Leafs goalie David Rittich during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Pearson, Sutter each score twice as Canucks dump Leafs 6-3

Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's second goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Tottenham Hotspur at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Friday, April 16, 2021. (Peter Powell/Pool via AP)
Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Super League collapses after the 6 English clubs withdraw

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez delivers against the Toronto Blue Jays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at Fenway Park in Boston. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Bogaerts’ 3-run HR, Rodriguez lift BoSox over Blue Jays 4-2

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Pound says Olympic qualifying issues a concern to IOC

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of B.C. varsity women’s team

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Ontario Hockey League cancels 2020-21 season as COVID-19 cases surge in province

Lionel Desmond (front row, far right) was part of the 2nd battalion, of the Royal Canadian Regiment, based at CFB Gagetown and shown in this 2007 handout photo taken in Panjwai district in between patrol base Wilson and Masum Ghar in Afghanistan. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook-Trev Bungay MANDATORY CREDIT
Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

Desmond inquiry: Veterans Affairs submits internal review after initial refusal

FILE - In this Feb. 18, 2021 file photo State representatives gather at the Capitol, in Phoenix. Two years after Arizona lawmakers repealed a law barring any instruction on HIV or AIDS that that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," they are close to enacting a broad remake of the state's sex education laws with a particular focus on LGBTQ issues. (AP Photo/Matt York,File)
Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Arizona governor vetoes strict sex education legislation

Most Read