It’s the end of an era in Hockeytown. Nicklas Lidstrom, the 42-year-old captain of the Detroit Red Wings and a player considered by many to be the greatest defenseman in the history of the game, has decided to retire.
Lidstrom announced his retirement at a press conference this morning. He spent the entirety of his 20-year NHL career in Detroit, winning three Stanley Cups (one as captain). He also won an Olympic gold medal for Sweden in 2006 and an IIHF World Championship in 1991. These three accomplishments are considered to be the highest level of success a hockey player can earn.
Perhaps the statistic that is most telling about Lidstrom’s career is that he won the Norris Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s best defenseman, a staggering seven times in ten years.
Lidstrom also became the first European-born player to lift the Stanley Cup as captain when his Red Wings won in 2008. He also became the first European player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, in 2002 (this is a trophy that is very rarely given to defensemen).
He is a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame. In fact, the discussion in the hockey world over the next few days will likely focus on whether he retires as the greatest defenseman of all time. Some will argue for Bobby Orr and, indeed, Lidstrom’s offensive output never matched Orr’s at his prime. In terms of consistency and longevity, however, there is no one on Lidstrom’s level. As was often said of him, he seemed to never make a mistake.
Below, a compilation of some of the best plays of Lidstrom’s career: