This afternoon, news broke that longtime Detroit Red Wings defenseman and future hall-of-famer Nicklas Lidstrom will officially announce his retirement tomorrow.
During Lidstrom’s career, he’s won four Stanley Cups, has twelve NHL All-Star appearances, seven Norris trophies, a Conn Smythe in 2002, an Olympic gold medal with Team Sweden in 2006, and others. He’ll also be one of the last players from the dominant Red Wings teams of the 1990s to hang up the skates, following Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, and others.
Obviously it’s more than just another player retiring. Because of Lidstrom’s stature, the Red Wings will have a big hole on the blue line. It’s widely expected that GM Ken Holland and company will be pulling out all the stops in trying to woo unrestricted free agent Ryan Suter. It’s only speculation, but I’d guess Lidstrom’s decision to retire will make Detroit a more attractive destination for Suter, who after years of being in Shea Weber’s shadow, would probably want to be “the guy” wherever he signs. Only a couple of hours ago Sportsnet hockey analyst Jeff Marek tweeted, “Ryan Suter gonna be at this Lidstrom presser tomorrow?”
Marek’s radio partner, Puck Daddy editor Greg Wyshynski, summed up the problems Lidstrom has had of late and why his character won’t let him play on:
“He won the Norris in 2010-11, decided to come back and played at a high level this season. But he is 42 now, and he’s coming off one of the few injuries of his career — a deep ankle bruise — that made him look mortal down the stretch and into the playoffs. He has always set a high standard for himself, and if he feels he can no longer meet it, if he feels he no longer has the motivation to train for another long season, he will walk away from the NHL even when he could still play well and make millions.”
It’s tough news for both hockey fans in Detroit as well as Lidstrom’s home country of Sweden. Lidstrom seems to have considered his injury history, cap space, and the fact that it might be time for Detroit to have some new faces on the blue line. True to his character, he made the decision with more than himself in mind.
Jeff Stone is the disgraced former captain of his JV hockey team and a reporter at the International Business Times. He has a signed rookie card of Martin Brodeur and a blog at WhenYouPutItThatWay.wordpress.com.