The NHL said goodbye to one of the greatest players in recent history on Thursday when Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom officially announced his retirement. While the announcement wasn't a surprise, it was still a difficult moment for fans who'd become used to seeing him patrol the Red Wings blueline over the past 20 seasons.
SEE? I'm not the only one who can't spell it!
Most hockey fans can recite the numbers by now: Lidstrom won seven Norris Trophies, was a first-team all-star ten times, and won four Stanley Cups. But perhaps just as impressive, he leaves the game as one of the most-respected players of his generation. Even in this cynical age, it seems as if nobody in the hockey world has a bad word to say about the classy superstar.
Here's a look back at the NHL career of Nicklas Lidstrom.
June 17, 1989 - The Red Wings select Lidstrom with the 53rd overall pick at a draft which is perhaps best remembered for the major traffic jam that apparently caused every team in the league to miss the first 52 picks.
October 3, 1991 - Lidstrom is a team-leading +2 in his NHL debut against the Chicago Blackhawks, who immediately vow to only let him dominate them like that maybe 150 more times, max.
January 20, 1996 - A 25-year-old Lidstrom makes his NHL all-star game debut, then celebrates with fellow young all-stars Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr by taking a few swigs of that weird bubbling elixir offered to them by a cackling Chris Chelios.
November 3, 1999 - A bored Lidstrom makes a bad decision in the defensive zone, just to see what it's like.
June 13, 2002 - By becoming the first European player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy and conclusively disproving the theory that players from outside North American somehow lack the drive and toughness to win in the playoffs, Lidstrom is single-handedly responsible for turning every Coach's Corner for the next decade into an identical seven minute infomercial about defensemen not deflecting slapshots with their sticks.
February 26, 2006 - Lidstrom scores the winning goal as Sweden beats Finland 3-2 to capture the Olympic gold medal, causing you to sheepishly realize that because he plays for Detroit you've spent the past decade just kind of assuming he was actually Russian.
June 30, 2006 - After Lidstrom signs an extension to remain with the Red Wings rather than become an unrestricted free agent the next day, a disappointed Glen Sather wonders what he should do with the garbage bag full of dollar bills he'd spent the last week writing "eleven gajillionty" on with a magic marker.
January 1, 2009 - The Red Wings beat the Blackhawks to win the outdoor Winter Classic. After the game, Lidstrom tells reports that he enjoyed playing in the Classic and would love to get the chance to play in another one someday, assuming it's not against some team the Red Wings are obviously going to beat 15-0 in which case why bother.
April 11, 2010 - Lidstrom ends the 2009-2010 season with 49 points and a +23 rating, finishes fourth in Norris voting, and is named to the NHL's second all-star team. Or, as it will later be unanimously remembered, the worst season of his career.
December 15, 2010 - In his 19th season in the league, Lidstrom finally records his first career hat trick, proving once and for all that there's nothing a 40-year-old guy won't do to cover up a receding hairline.
January 18, 2011 - League officials name Lidstrom a captain for the first ever NHL All-Star fantasy draft, after he's the only player to show up with a draft list that isn't just the words "Nicklas Lidstrom" printed 40 different times.
November 11, 2011 - Lidstrom takes part in a 3-0 victory over the Oilers to become the first player in NHL history to play in 900 career regular season wins, although critics point out that he still remains tied for dead last in career wins against the Detroit Red Wings.
February 4, 2012 - While he's become used to players expressing their admiration for him and urging him to continue playing, Lidstrom admits he still finds it kind of creepy when a wild-eyed Tim Thomas vows to randomly take a year off if he ever tries to retire.
May 31, 2012 - As his retirement press conference winds down, Red Wing fans around the world are forced to accept the fact that for the first time in 20 years, Nicklas Lidstrom has done something to disappoint them.